How The American Church Majorly Lost This Election

*Note: this blog contains uncensored quotations.

**Secondary note: rude or defensive comments will be deleted.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. – The Gospel of Thomas, Verse 70

When I speak on the American church losing this election, I am not talking in terms of candidates and who won or lost. Whether or not America’s presidential election is launching a great era or a bad one is a matter of personal opinion, and the realities of that opinion will either be confirmed by facts, or they won’t. Either way, I feel that American Christians severely lost this election, and we lost because who too many of us really are was exposed for the entire world to see.

I am not given to politics. I do have my opinions, but when I traded in the world for the Kingdom years ago, I let it go. Prior to that time, I was a lobbyist for women’s issues within the New York State house and senate, and I will fully admit that I did what I did as a lobbyist for both Planned Parenthood and Concerned Clergy for Choice. I am not ashamed of the fact that I did community education for women in preventing disease and unwanted pregnancy, and that I was a part of the EC in the ER bill back when it was still on the New York State floor (later, it was signed into law by President Bush). One of the major reasons I left was because I felt they were mixing politics and I was not comfortable with where they were going. All in all, however, I do still follow matters; I do still have thoughts about what is best for my country, and now, most definitely as a church leader, I have thoughts about what is best for the church.

I resolved when this whole election mess started that I wouldn’t delete people because of who they voted for president. I still state I have not done that, although I will fully admit that one side got deleted a lot more than the other because of their behavior. No matter who you back for president, you should be able to do it with poise and not vile, ungodly behavior. When people started getting ungodly, I waited, and I toughed it out, until I simply could not watch what was being done and said any longer. Good or bad, whether someone thinks I am right or wrong, I deleted people who couldn’t behave and even blocked a few because they would not stop their vile conduct.

For this, I am not sorry. It is an example of how the church lost this election, and how if we don’t get ourselves together, we are going to destroy ourselves. Which is why I write this blog.  As a church, we need to be reached.

I am not going to use this blog to get into a discourse on church and politics; I am saving that for my next blog series, which will be very insightful into the origins of these movements and the realities that, whether or not they tell you that you’re “voting the Bible,” you’re not, and you aren’t doing what you do out of Biblical belief, but rather, clever propaganda. In fact, what I am seeing in our losses as a church is how easily swayed we are by propaganda, by ideas and thoughts that we’ve heard so much, we don’t realize they aren’t true even slightly. So here, we are going to look at all the ways we’ve lost…in a big way.

Following the improvers of men – Whenever I start looking at the throngs of people Christians seem to follow, I always hear the words of Nietzsche in one of his works: “These improvers of men – who are they? And who made them improvers?” In other words – we are surrounded by self-declared experts who, for whoever knows what reason, decided that these are the people we should follow because they have the “answers.” We don’t know where they came from, we don’t know the first thing about them, and what they have to say is really not that innovative or interesting. Most of the time, they are “improving” by getting caught up in waves of emotion and swaying people to their thoughts and feelings. What came to me this election was the true way in which people simply follow people because they are perceived to be famous, more “spiritual,” claim to have been to heaven three hundred times in the past year, or because they are simply more entertaining. The more we clamor that we want something new, the more we follow people who are literal and traditional, who uphold our modern traditions and who make us feel better about who we are as believers, isolating ourselves and ignoring the bigger issues of the church as an international whole.

When Charisma Magazine started endorsing Donald Trump, I was done with them. I hadn’t been a big fan of Charisma’s cohorts for awhile, because I felt that many of their statements were derogatory to women without being derogatory (they criticized feminism, made women in ministry sound like a commodity rather than something that should just exist, and elevated some people over others), but I was willing to tolerate them. Before now. Now they just sound like a bunch of “improvers” with an agenda to push, one that is not for the good of the church but for whatever ideals they have, and their conservative ideals leave out a good majority of a more moderate or more liberal church that has no interest in what they seek to push or promote.

We love money – and that’s not a good thing – I have this sinking feeling that had Donald Trump just been some poor, unsuccessful man who decided to run for president, he wouldn’t have taken the world – or a good percentage of the church community – by storm. Everyone would have blown him off (like they should have) and not taken it all real seriously. Because he is a billionaire businessman, he’s right up the alley of people who think prosperity is the key to everything and the ideal that God blesses people with only money. In prosperity logic, Donald Trump as a billionaire equates to Donald Trump being favored by God, with no consideration for the fact that there are rich people and poor people and it rains on both alike. Throw in a few chants for conservative politics and you have a complete recipe for the ultimate deception. Which brings me to my next point…

We don’t understand spiritual gifts and five-fold ministry offices – When I discovered that Charisma Magazine and many others were endorsing the idea that Donald Trump was a prophet, it was enough to make me want to throw in the towel and join another religious group. For the past decade, I have taught on spiritual gifts, on the five-fold ministry, and what apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers do…and it’s apparent that the church is simply not listening. How anyone can presume or compare a secular politician in a secular country, who has no prophetic training, who we have no comprehensive education he is even a Christian, is a prophet sent to deliver a message is absurd. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are secular politicians appointed to represent secular groups of people. There is no evidence to bespeak that either one of them has a prophetic or any other sort of ministry gift because neither of them are in ministry. We do know Hillary Clinton is a churchgoing Methodist, but we have nothing to suggest that Donald Trump had set foot in a church in recent memory before someone went and put a prayer shawl on him. The very act of doing so was disgraceful, because it proved that we don’t understand the symbolic power of such garments and that we so want to have our own way and feel like someone represents the church that we were willing to compromise spiritual dignity.

If we don’t understand spiritual gifts and the five-fold ministry, that means we need to sit down long and hard and admit we don’t know about the Bible (as a church) as we might like to hope we do and start learning from accurate leaders who may not be sensational, but can help us get to where we need to be in the spiritual realm.

A revolving cast of characters – What do Jezebel and Elijah have to do with this election? The proper spiritual answer is nothing, but somehow, they got dragged into this election as the whole thing took on a ridiculous, fanciful messianic character that was, quite frankly, an embarrassment. Donald Trump cannot by any serious scholar be compared to the Prophet Elijah for a few reasons. The first is that Elijah went up against Ahab, not Jezebel. There is not a single verse in the Bible that ever says God sent Elijah to talk to Jezebel, because Ahab was the leader, not Jezebel. Jezebel only had as much power as Ahab lent to her, and if you read the whole story of Ahab and Jezebel, you will see that Ahab deliberately went and sought out Jezebel for his wife in rebellion to God. But Donald Trump was running for president, for the highest position in the land. He wasn’t a spiritual authority sent to go talk to the highest authority in the land. He brought no spiritual measure to the election and he was not “going up” to combat anyone. He was a man battling an election against a politician, but both were to be elected by the people and the electoral college. Ahab was a king; he inherited his position, he was not voted in. Donald Trump did not speak a singular prophetic word the entire election. God did not appoint Trump to speak on His behalf.

The theology and scriptural errancy in these ideas is almost laughable, but what is even more scary is how quickly and desperately people swallowed it up. People want a leader so bad, want someone they feel they can “identify” with, they bought this, hook, line, and sinker. But as one of my pastors put it, “Who decides who is who?” That, I feel, is a really important message – who DOES make these decisions, and why do people follow them so readily?

Not caring enough who are leaders are – I have made the statement in the past few years that I get sick of being “Al Borland.” If you’ve ever watched the show, Home Improvement, the main character, Tim Taylor, is host of a cable tool show, Tool Time. He’s always screwing up and everybody hates him. Al is his assistant; quiet, competent, and clearly knows what he is doing. Tim got the job because he was more entertaining, even though Al might have been more qualified. I feel like this is exactly where we are in church today. People throng behind a leader they think might be more entertaining or more popular while forsaking competent leaders who can teach them the Word and about ministry, bringing them to a place where their work speaks for itself. The fact that Christians thronged behind Donald Trump shows me that we don’t care enough about who we choose for our leaders. We are willing to overlook aspects of their character and their credentials that are unqualified for the job and improper for those behaviors as believers in order to get the one who has the most money, is the most popular, or stirs up the emotions the most.

There are people who have been on my Facebook page for years; some of them I even met in person. When they started using foul language on their pages, becoming aggressive and pushy, and behaving in a manner that was downright derogatory, I had to disconnect from them. They refused to hear that they were behaving improperly and it was obvious they had picked up the nature of their desired “leader.”

The leaders we pick are the leaders we become. Let that sink in.

Trying to make prophecies fit where they don’t, showing we don’t understand Scripture – I have seen more Christians try to stuff current happenings into the Bible during this election than I ever have in my entire life. It is almost as if there is this intense drive to make things “apply” or “fit,” to make circumstances and world happenings point to something that they simply do not.

Look, the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel are not a gigantic codebook that we can plug headlines into. They are prophecies we should seek to understand from the perspective in which they were written, and see something more in them than just trying to shove an agenda down everyone’s throats. The more we keep trying to misuse Scripture, the more we prove to the world that we do not understand it and we do not desire to learn it.

We’re not conscientious enough about world events – When an individual running for office says, “I would bomb the shit out of them” in regards to a perceived threat to the United States, that individual proves that they do not know enough about how politics work. When people seriously think that building a wall on the Mexican border, using nukes, “loving war,” and handling the international community is a good idea, they are proving that they don’t know the first thing about what goes on internationally and how problems and issues get resolved. Because Christians in America insist on believing they are being persecuted and mistreated, they are missing the fact that how we interact with other nations seriously impacts the spread of the church worldwide and our ability to fellowship and consider our international brethren. It deeply disturbs me when I hear people talk in a derogatory manner about Palestinians, because they are also talking about Palestinian Christians who get lost in political rhetoric. This is a classic example of how politics cause us to throw the church under the bus and to ignore our international, borderless brotherhood and sisterhood of believers. There is more in the international world to consider besides the nations of America and Israel, and there is more to think about than just what is best for us in an immediate sense. There is a fine line between patriotism and idolatry, and if we can’t separate the two, it doesn’t surprise me why the American church has almost completely dropped off the missions map. You can’t go on missions if you already think you’re superior in this modern world.

Christians behaving badly – I acknowledge that people misuse the concept of love to indicate that anything should go sometimes, but we can’t erase that the Bible does tell us God is love and we are supposed to love one another. There is special Biblical injunction for loving those in the Christian community as well, because such proves that God is real. If we can’t love each other, after all, how can we even venture the idea of trying to love others? If this election proves anything, however, it’s that the church has deluded itself on what love really is and is using the defense of truth to try and turn love into a right-fight. The way so-called Christians have behaved this election disturbs me to levels unknown: posting derogatory pictures and memes, bashing, public cussing, not considering how they behave or what they say might hurt someone else’s feelings (let alone turn off onlookers to Christianity in the process), and just not considering or caring that a public official has to think about more than just what one group of people might want.

The way people have behaved is disgusting. The fact that their candidate got elected just endorses it. My Bible tells me I have to die to myself, to the things I might want and the way I might want to act sometimes, not that I have the right to run around and say, “And you can tell them to go fuck themselves.”

The divisions of the American church – Like it or not, the church in America is not one. Our churches are still largely divided by racial lines, the church is sexist with no intention to change that any time soon, the church as a whole is unkind and ungodly toward LGBT individuals, and it’s obvious through incidious propaganda and teaching that nobody even thinks about that the church as a whole has no intention of correcting or changing where it’s at. Change, however, is exactly what is needed, but this won’t happen until the “improvers of men” just become “men with opinions.”

Not separating from undignified individuals – In keeping with my last point, those of us who believe in unity held on as long as we could to people who don’t have any regard or respect for those of us who don’t agree with them on many important issues. We held on to people who didn’t support our ministries and who most of the time picked other leaders and individuals to fraternize with because they liked them better. All of this relates to what I spoke of earlier, about thronging to people who we see as more entertaining and more emotional. These same people, however, are ones who would say I was not a real Christian because I did not endorse Donald Trump for president.

I believe the accusation is unfounded, but I think it’s more to-the-point that we are insisting on holding on to people who proved long before this election that we weren’t THEIR choice in their understanding of the kingdom. People who maintained dignity, discussed things with respect, and who worked as hard as they could to die to the flesh and love people regardless were classified as not being really Christian. This has unveiled where our priorities lie; how too many are defining faith and belief; and, whether or not we want to admit it, reducing faith to issues of salvation by works because the implication is made that if you don’t do what they want, you aren’t saved.

Not acknowledging the sins of their candidate – I’m tired of hearing about emails and Benghazi. If I never hear about either again, life will be great, but I know better. You can’t run around and say Hillary Clinton is a criminal and then bury your head in the sand when it came out that Donald Trump had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl and dozens of other women. You can’t expect Elijah to be a sexual deviant. Nope. Not equal time, not right, and certainly not family values.

If you can’t accept the sins of your candidate, then he is an idol. He is not Elijah, he is not Jesus, he is not a prophet, he is a man with multiple marriages and children from several different women, and that means I don’t want to hear another word about single mothers, divorce and remarriage, or anything else related to this topic. If your selected leader can get away with it, so can everyone else.

Only considering part – not all – of the issues – Abortion is not the only issue that should be considered when it comes to a candidate. There are medical reasons why late-term abortions become necessary, and there is no such thing as an abortion in the ninth month. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortions, it just creates death. Immigration is a complicated issue, but the Berlin Wall proved that it’s not as simple as building a wall. There are other things that we need to consider as citizens of a nation that have nothing to do with hot-button issues. A lot of things can bring economic instability and can cause racial tensions, the downfall of companies, and the like. We’re supposed to be big enough and set ourselves aside enough to consider social issues that effect everyone, not just what we might like in an ideal world or ideal setting.

Judging different decisions – I saw two extremes this election: individuals who said you would go to hell if you voted for anyone this election, and people who said you would go to hell if you did not vote in the election. Neither statement is fair theologically and neither is true. God is not up in heaven endorsing candidates and the decision to vote is a personal one, made between an individual and their country. The popular vote of the US was for Clinton, not Trump, and the fact that some feel now their vote was wasted or that participating in the system had no point is a justified feeling. Let’s all stop judging one another on this matter already!

Being afraid – When I first heard that Trump won the electoral college vote, my first impulse was fear. I never imagined his run would go this far and that I would have to face the fact that he might be elected, for real. Everything he had said throughout this election ran through my head: “I love war.” “Yes, even with nukes.” “I would bomb the shit out of them.” “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.” They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.”

My thoughts raced to numerous people I’ve met around here: The front-end manager at the Wal-Mart up the street who is from Pakistan, the couple I’ve met with their grandson who is from India, the numerous Hispanics from different parts of Latin America, all of whom are living their lives and minding their own business. Then I thought about our own lives and what can happen and I got quickly worried. God had to remind me that He has not given us a spirit of fear. I have to remember that even in the midst of this, God is using the situation to bring us to a place where we are willing to look at ourselves and where we are to find a place of change. Even this crazy election should be used not to feel vindicated, but to look at who we are and what we need to do.

If you believe in the last days, then you should realize that the church’s time to get itself together isn’t real long. Even if you don’t believe we are in the last days, we all know God doesn’t allow mess to go on forever. We need to learn the truth, the Scriptures, the realities about who we are and stop aggrandizing everything. We have the responsibility to learn how to live with others. The election might have been a disaster politically, but it is only a disaster spiritually if we refuse to learn and accept that we aren’t who we think we are. The sooner we do this, the sooner God can do what He wants to do in and through us.

© 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

Why God Allows Us To “Miss” Him

The humble shall see their God at work for them. No wonder they will be so glad! All who seek for God shall live in joy. – Psalm 69:32 (TLB)

Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice, and become wise. – Proverbs 13:10 (TLB)

But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled; and those who humble themselves shall be exalted. – Matthew 23:12 (TLB)

For everyone who tries to honor himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself shall be honored.” – Luke 14:11 (TLB)

If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in His good time He will lift you up. – 1 Peter 5:6 (TLB)

I want to start this off by saying I am not writing this to be theological. I am sure that there are those who would be technical and argue the theology of what I am about to share. It’s a revelation I received today from God that applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. What I am writing on is more existential as pertains to our relationship with God and the direct experiences we have as we grow in Him and we work and strive to develop the gifts He has placed within us. Oh, do we think we are “gifted” today. It’s not enough to have one gift today, we think we need fifteen of them (even ones that are not Biblical, ergo the reference to fifteen of them) and that we are a bunch of offices at once, because one just isn’t enough for our grossly inflated egos. We naively believe that our gifts will take us where we want to go, that they are all-sufficient as they are, and that nobody ever has the right to question what we come away with when something comes up…because, after all, we are “anointed.”

The prophets throughout the ages (many of whom were also types for other five-fold ministry offices to come in the New Testament) were all “anointed.” They were people with gifts and abilities that cause our own vague and leading prophecies about weather patterns and Kim Kardashian to pale in comparison. There was never a Biblical prophet who made a beginning of the year prophecy that natural disasters would happen, because that’s a big “duh” message. Meteorologists can tell you that is going to happen without being prophets. Nobody sat around and debated politics via prophecy. There were no “words” asking where watchmen were when calamities or wars arose, because people accepted they were things that happened and had a prophet rose up with that kind of commentary, people would have wanted to know where he or she was to stop it! Prophets didn’t arrange marriages or tell people they were going to find a “husband” or “wife” or tell them who their future spouse was going to be. Nobody called out social security numbers, bank account numbers, or online passwords and classified such ridiculous things as “prophetic word.” The things we consider a “word” today would have been considered words of none effect in times gone by, not even meeting the standards of the ancients, because they were made by observation. In this pursuit, being enthralled with the concept of being “gifted” and expecting that to suffice in the face of everything to the contrary, we have dumbed down prophecy to the point where our puffed up self-righteousness doesn’t even come close to the true glory and splendor of God reflecting through us.

In the Old Testament, God’s prophets went through not one year of training, or two years of training, or even ten years of training, but at minimum, thirty years of training. It certainly puts those who are too arrogant to go through a three-year seminary in perspective! Have we ever considered why that is, and why the training was so detailed and excessive? In the Old Testament, the Israelites didn’t worship and receive instruction like we do today. The system of teaching in Judaism emerged later in history and did not serve the same purpose as the “schools of the prophets” did in those times. In fact, the “schools of the prophets” were nothing like sacrificial offerings, festival gatherings, or other periods of study and group worship. They were thirty-plus years long instructional experiences that studied the prophetic, the voice of God, the way God moved historically, and the way God moves and speaks through His creation. In the experiences of life and the problems of living and surviving, the prophet needed to recognize that the prophetic word of God and the way God moved through people and through circumstances would seem different, evolve, change, and develop in a deeper way. What they “felt” was God guiding them in a situation a few years earlier might seem or sound different as they grew as a prophet.

In other words: prophets were still human beings (their spiritual gifts and anointing did not make them sinless, nor perfect, nor infallible, nor divine) who were appointed by God to speak for Him and deliver His Word. It was possible for them to have their “misses,” meaning they misjudged something as being from God when it was not and then they would have to be accountable for that misspoken word. The Law made absolutely no allowance for false or misspoken word to the people, especially when it was spoken in the Name of God (Deuteronomy 18:14-22). False prophecy was grounds for being put to death, because it caused confusion and easily led the all-too-eager to sin Israelites right into a place they needed not to be. The long-term school of the prophets proved that being a prophet was a life-long calling, one that also demanded a long-term commitment out of an individual. It wasn’t just get papers and run like we do today (sometimes I think my three-year requirement isn’t even long enough), but the continued dedication to understanding and discerning the voice of God as a trained group of people surrounded that individual to create accountability and help through those periods where they “missed” God. Such a long-term experience helped keep the prophets humble and from allowing false teaching to permeate the wrong ears and infiltrate the camp. In other words, it stopped the problems that we have in church today before they ever started.

I believe we can achieve this kind of purpose without having to have a thirty-plus year training session with leaders today. It is created through the continual accountability we are all called to have with leadership as they help to grow and develop us on matters. It also starts as we stop insisting that we are always right and always hearing from God and think every single thought, feeling, vision, dream, or experience we have is divine and insisting that it should always be shared. Even though the Law existed that any prophetic miss on the part of the prophets merited death, Biblical history is full of people who prophesied and missed God on matters. David fell into sin with Bathsheba. Abraham and Sarah brought forth Ishmael out of impatience. Jacob led himself into all sorts of mess with his own family (especially his brother, Esau) and then with Leah and Rachel. Their survival and longevity proves to us that while missing God was a serious issue, it was something that happened. It’s something that still happens, and I just wonder if there is a reason for it. I wonder if God allows us to miss Him sometimes on things, especially important things, so we will remain humble. It is God’s desire that we know and listen to His voice in all things, that we don’t overestimate our abilities, and that we are able to see where we are getting in our own way of hearing Him when we need to. We need to be people who are accountable for what we say and what we teach, and who are not too proud to listen to the wise and discerning counsel of good leadership, good mentors, good friends, even those we teach at times and accept the fact that at times, we have missed God and need to pay that much more attention to listen to Him better in the future. Haughtiness will result in humbling, and the worse we get, the more opportunities we are going to have to miss God as we pursue our own course and refuse to heed the wise counsel of those we know and trust. While this is not something that I believe happens randomly, with each person who just doesn’t want to accept the words that we have to say, I do believe that accountability is created by those relationships formed in those we trust to teach us because we see God’s hand on them and their work, and those who we know God’s hand is upon by their history of experience with Him.

Everything in church isn’t as deep as some big, grand revelation. Some of our dreams, thoughts, experiences, and feelings are nothing more than being overtired or watching too many movies, influenced by the world, the results of choices we have made, or our opinions about something. Everything we do, say, think, and feel was not put within us by God. This doesn’t make it inherently wrong or evil, but it does make it lack the divine quality to count as revelation or word. Man or woman of God, take a deep breath and allow God to show you where you are missing Him in your life, and get with someone who can help you in honesty to accept His revelation and hear in a deeper way from Him in your life and ministry.

© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

The Prophetic: Separating Truth From Myths

When I first became a Christian in 1999, I knew of a grand total of one so-called prophet.   This individual turned out to be a false prophet who spoke a series of time-frame specific words, which never came to pass, over the church community I attended. I had never met anyone else who claimed to be a prophet. If we fast-forward to today, in the latter part of 2012, there are more than one or two so-called prophets in the church. With the advance of expectations on leadership, the confusion between gifts and offices, and the push for people to accept a leadership role, we witness an influx of people claiming to be prophets, prophetic people, prophetically gifted, and the like. What we do not see is extensive teaching on the prophetic, prophecy, and the whole understanding of prophecy and the walk of a prophet. As a result, people are confused. It does not help that the prophetic realm is highly complex and encompasses many areas, which are often misunderstood.

It’s very important for us, as believers, to be smart about the prophetic. Prophecy is a big part of the church, and we know the foundation of the church consists of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). We also know the spirit of prophecy is subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32). In order to function properly, the church needs a balanced, empowered approach to all things prophetic.

Most churches today know they can draw a crowd if they let people know a so-called prophet is coming to town. The reason for this is simple: people like drama and people like to receive what they deem to be a personal word, just for them. This increase in miracle-chasers calls us to greater discernment on prophetic matters. Just because someone claims to be a prophet does not make them one.   Just because someone claims to have a gift does not mean they have one. Just because the majority of people forgot the last false prophet’s prophecy doesn’t mean the individual is not a false prophet. Since Jesus Himself advises us not to be deceived by false prophets (Matthew 7:15, Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22), we ourselves need to step up and separate the truth from the myths about the prophetic realm.

TRUE OR FALSE: The Spirit of God is given to all believers.

Answer: TRUE. The Spirit of God is most definitely given to all believers, but this does not mean the way the Spirit manifests in everyone is exactly the same, as we will discuss more to come. Even though the Spirit of God manifests in all believers, not every believer is a prophet.

In that case, why did I address this question as part of an examination of the prophetic? There are groups that teach the Spirit of God is NOT given to all believers, and that the Spirit of God has no manifestation among believers today. Such people espouse a doctrine of cessationalism, which literally means the gifts of the Spirit have ceased. If we want to understand the prophetic, we have to understand the operations of the Spirit. The Spirit produces both gifts (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) and fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) in believers. The Word specifically states that we “live by the Spirit,” which indicates activity – not inactivity – on the part of the Spirit’s work within us (Galatians 5:25). Trying to establish the move of the Spirit as relevant only for the first century, or as totally void in this day and age, nullifies the understanding of the Spirit’s power and gifts present within the Body.

TRUE OR FALSE: The word “Prophet” means “Someone who exercises spiritual gifts”.

Answer: FALSE. The word “Prophet” literally means “Someone who speaks for God.” As with the prophets of old, a prophet serves to relay a message from God to God’s people. Because the prophet is hearing from God, the prophet is able to walk in an office of discernment. It is the prophet’s job to convey God’s message and refute false messages. God gifts the prophet so they do have the ability to function in the prophetic office, but a prophet is not identified solely by their gifts – they are known for their ability to communicate God’s desired message, in His desired time.

TRUE OR FALSE: Having a prophetic gift is the same thing as being a prophet.

Answer: FALSE. Many people assume an ability to prophesy, give a word of knowledge or wisdom, or operate healing makes someone a prophet. This understanding is false. Healing, prophecy, word of knowledge, and word of wisdom are all charismatic gifts, or gifts that are given by the anointing unction of the Holy Spirit. Any Spirit-filled believer can operate one of these charismatic gifts that relate to the prophetic realm (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The five-fold ministry gifts (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher), or didomi gifts (Ephesians 4:11), are a separate set of gifts that specifically relate to church offices for leadership and governance. Not everyone is called to be a leader, but everyone is called to help build up the church through the charisma (anointing) given by which charismatic gifts flow. This is the main difference between understanding the call to ministry and operating a gift. When you are in the office of a prophet, your entire walk, call, and being flows within that operation; when you have a gift, it comes as God wills and functions as God wills, rather than being an entire operation of your life. This also means a prophet will walk in some or all of these charismatic gifts as part of their calling – but it doesn’t mean someone who occasionally receives a prophecy or gives a word is a prophet.

TRUE OR FALSE: Being a Christian means you are automatically prophetic.

Answer: FALSE. Because all believers have an indwelling of the Spirit, some people maintain all believers have the ability to operate prophetic gifts. While I will agree that most believers do have experiences by which they directly experience God in some way, this is not the same as being able to operate a prophetic gift. What many do not realize is we have two passages of Scripture that list charismatic gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Romans 12:4-8. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 lists many gifts that relate to the prophetic (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues), while Romans 12:4-8 lists some prophetic gifts, but several practical gifts that relate to ministry purpose and function (prophecy, faith, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, and mercy). Service (found in some translations as hospitality), a long-forgotten gift, is not a prophetic work. Encouragement is not a prophetic work. Service is not prophetic. Giving is not prophetic. I know we are all about showy gifts and grand, impressive moves of God today, but the Word makes it clear that all gifts are of value, purpose, and edification of the Body. Gifts aren’t about what entertains us the most; they are about God and building up the church. Being handed a cup of water or served a meal after preaching is just as valued as the preacher who proclaims the message. A word of encouragement at the right time is not prophetic. Serving and giving are not works that are prophetic – but they are all equally important. It’s important that we, as the Body of Christ, value all of God’s gifts to the church manifest in His people, so we, as a Body, may be complete. Even though one person may not be as prophetic as someone else, they are still just as valued, loved, and important as someone else.

TRUE OR FALSE: There is more than one way to be a prophet or exercise a prophetic gift.

Answer: TRUE. Not all prophets operate by the same means. Some prophets are very strong teachers of prophecy and interpreting the prophetic throughout history. Most exercise a combination of the charismatic prophetic gifts, but that doesn’t mean they exercise every one of them, or exercise them twenty-four-seven. The same is true of someone who exercises a prophetic gift and is a prophet. Remember, the goal of the Christian life is not to be enamored with gifts, but enamored with the Giver of gifts. Every prophetic gift serves a purpose for the Body – and we must be more open to greater understandings of the prophetic. Intercession, discernment, and interpretation of prophecy are all prophetic gifts, just as valuable as healing and a word of wisdom.

TRUE OR FALSE: Being able to discern the outcome of an event does not necessarily make you a prophet.

Answer: TRUE. There are numerous commentators who ramble through news headlines and popular stories in an effort to prove themselves “prophetic.” They will make “predictions” about world events, and call these “predictions” “prophecy. If one steps back and analyses these commentators, they aren’t prophesying; they are analyzing current news trends. They are often as wrong as they are right, and the conclusions they draw when right are from analyzing circumstances – not receiving spiritual inspiration. Prophecy doesn’t come from the ability to put together facts – it comes from God, and often appears without evidence to speak to its future outcome. When the Prophet Daniel received the vision we now know to represent four major world powers (Daniel 7:1-28), there was nothing to suggest the sway of governmental politics would work in his favor. If we look at prophecies made promising exile (Jeremiah 2:1-37, Ezekiel 4:1-17), the prophecies weren’t respected because people didn’t see those prophecies fitting into their plans. True prophecy isn’t discerned by analyzing news stories: it’s discerned by the Holy Spirit.

TRUE OR FALSE: There is a difference between a prophet and a psychic.

Answer: TRUE. Most of us know this, but there are still many out there who think prophets make predictions the same way psychics do, just by a different power. The truth about psychics is overwhelming: the average psychic has an eleven percent accuracy rating, and the majority of their “hits” come about by reading people or discerning circumstances. God’s prophecy is not “hit and miss,” nor does it come about through via divining means. A psychic is trying to tell people things about them, supposedly by a supernatural source other than God. This is why mediums, psychics, and diviners are so strongly forbidden according to the Word: trusting one is a sign you do not trust God, and you are following after false gods and sources (Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:6). A prophet speaks God’s Word to His people – thus making the power of God present in a prophecy, increasing one’s faith (Isaiah 6:1-13, Jeremiah 1:4-10).

TRUE OR FALSE: Prophets can be partially right and partially wrong, speaking out of the flesh at times.

Answer: FALSE. If prophecy consists of God’s Word to His people, there is no “fleshly prophecy.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) True prophecy is not based in the flesh, and does not come forth from fleshly attitudes, thoughts, or reading people’s emotions. A true prophet cannot speak prophetically right at times and prophetically wrong at others. Prophets also cannot speak a partially right prophecy, where some of the details are accurate, but some are not. Prophecy is one of those one hundred percent things: it’s either all right, or it’s wrong. If part of a prophecy is wrong, that makes it a false prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:14-22).

Prophets, as people, are allowed to have opinions and thoughts – clearly distinguished from ministerial prophecy – and those opinions do not count as prophecy, because they are opinions. For example, a prophet may have a personal opinion about an elected official, the food they like, or their favorite color, none of which have anything to do with their prophetic call. A prophet may be wrong about things as a human being, and they may run into personal issues. These are matters to be considered in kind, and based on personal perspective. When it comes to prophecy, however, the prophet is either right or wrong – because prophecy does not leave room for human error.

TRUE OR FALSE: Prophecy is dependent on the person who receives the prophecy to do certain things.

Answer: FALSE. Most in today’s church confuse a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, and prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). There is a reason these gifts have been identified by three different terms, in three different ways. A word of wisdom is what we commonly call a “word.” When someone asks for a “word,” they aren’t asking for a prophecy, they are asking for a word of wisdom. A word of wisdom is a personal, direct word of guidance and direction for an individual and their life. It may or may not include a specific directive relating to someone’s future, but it typically includes an instructional directive. This makes a word of wisdom conditional on an individual person’s obedience. A word of knowledge is divine insight into a person’s situation, and typically offers perspective, encouragement, correction, or hope as pertains to that specific situation. A word of knowledge is also conditional on an individual person’s obedience. In both instances, the individual must accept the wisdom and knowledge offered. This makes the outcome of a word of knowledge or wisdom dependent on the individual’s actions thereafter. A prophecy, however, is not dependent upon a person’s obedience. A prophecy is clear and direct, and clarifies the consequences for disobedience and the promise for obedience. Either way, what happens in the result of the situation at hand remains the same with prophecy. Telling someone a prophecy is conditional upon their actions is a misnomer, and reflects a misunderstanding of prophecy.

TRUE OR FALSE: Prophecy doesn’t always make sense until it comes to pass.

Answer: TRUE. When Daniel, Ezekiel, and Hosea were shown visions, asked to literally live the sins of Israel, or illustrate the broken covenant between God and His people (Daniel 8:1-27, Ezekiel 3:18-27, Hosea 1:2-11), what they saw and did seemed odd to people. I would venture that it seemed odd to the prophets themselves, as well, because God often asked them to break rules, laws, and guidelines deeply instilled within them as codes of holiness. When they were first doing these things, it didn’t make sense. As the Word of God came forth through their prophecies, however (along the same lines as a parable), the people understood better what God was trying to convey. Sometimes prophecy doesn’t make sense at first, because we don’t have all the details. It may seem vague in some ways, and ultra-specific in others. Prophecy often contains symbolism, as well, which may open the door to numerous speculations about its interpretation. Prophecy is something understood completely only in hindsight, and it is important that we don’t immediately write off a prophecy because we don’t understand everything about it.

TRUE OR FALSE: A prophet should require money to give a prophetic word.

Answer: FALSE. It’s important we are careful about the words we receive, and even more careful about who we receive a word from in our modern times. We also need to be careful about where we sow our finances, and why we are giving that money where we choose to give it. The church abounds today with leaders who will tell you they have a “word” for you, but they won’t give it to you unless you pay them for it. This is witchcraft at its finest, not to mention ridiculous.   There is nothing wrong with giving an offering to a prophetic speaker or just giving to someone because God places it on your heart. What is decisively wrong is when someone refuses to give you a message from the Lord because you won’t pay them. Such conduct is a sign God is not with that prophet. When people follow such a leader, it is a sign that God is not with those people, either – because God cannot dwell with dishonesty (Micah 3:11).

(c) 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.

False Christs And False Messiahs

Matthew 24:24:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (ASV)

False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen. (CEB)

False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God’s chosen ones. (CEV)

For false-christs and false-prophets will arise and give great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the chosen ones. (DLNT)

Mark 13:22:

False Christs (Messiahs) and false prophets will arise and show signs and [work] miracles to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (those God has chosen out for Himself). (AMP)

There will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing signs and wonders for the purpose, if possible, of misleading the chosen. (CJB)

For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and give signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (DARBY)

False ·Christs [Messiahs] and false prophets will ·come [appear; rise up] and perform ·great wonders [signs; miracles] and ·miracles [wonders; marvels]. They will try to ·fool [mislead; deceive] even the ·people God has chosen [elect], if that is possible. (EXB)

We all like to quote the passages above, in a variety of translations (because, for the most part, the passage’s message remains the same) whenever a cult leader seems to rise up. I remember the panic in people’s voices when they heard about David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas, or the work of the Heaven’s Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite, or some of the other groups that, to this day, still seem to send chills down the spines of people who simply can’t believe – or fathom – anyone followed these people.

Sure, the leaders of these different were odd, at best, demonic, at worst. The things they did and the ways in which they manipulated people’s minds were not only evil, they had a characteristic of wrong about them that doesn’t cotton well in the minds of average people. My question, however is as follows: in keeping with the passage, which makes it obvious that multiple people will come in order to deceive, is claiming to actually be Jesus Christ or the Messiah incarnate really what this passage is literally speaking of?

Take a guess, if you will, just how many people in recorded history have claimed to actually be the Christ Incarnate. How many do you think it’s been? 10,000? 1,000? Even 500?

Nope. The actual number is not even 100. In recorded history, approximately 35 historical figures have actually claimed to be the Messiah, or claimed to be “the Christ.” While I am sure there have been others that we don’t know about (which should say something in and of itself to us), or others who maybe history has obscured, with 35 on record, that pretty much clears up that there was never going to be some sort of mass movement towards people claiming to be the Second Coming, Jesus Himself, the Incarnation of the Christ, or some combination of all three.

The way this prophecy reads, it is surely not only a reference to the 35 people who outright claimed to be Jesus. The reality of these people is that very few people in history ever really bought into their claims that they were Christ and, therefore, their work had very minimal, if any, effects on the larger principle of the “elect” or “chosen” in history. Out of the list of people who claimed to be Christ, very few of them ever even claimed Christianity for themselves, or did something that obviously distorted the belief system to the point where not too many followed or believed them.

This means that, as with most things Biblical, we need to go back and look – again – at the warning and the passage. The term “false Christ” and “false Messiah” are the same word in the Greek, it being “pseudochristos” (#5580, Strong’s). (Note: these are different terms from the word “antichrist,” which is “antichristos,” and indicates being against something, rather than being false). This term has been translated to mean “false Christ” as in the person of Christ, but what it literally means is “false anointing” or “false anointed one.” It is parallel in structure to the term for “false prophets,” which is “pseudoprophetes” (#5578, Strong’s). In other words, the Bible is not just telling us to beware a few random people who will claim to be Jesus Himself – but are warning us to beware people who come, having a “false anointing” or a “false prophecy” – one that appears (where we get the prefix pseudo-from) to be anointed or appears to be prophetic – but indeed, is not.

All of us have met someone who claimed to be something in ministry, but their claims just didn’t seem to match up with the reality of who and what that person is. For example: a deliverance minister who doesn’t seem to have any success stories, nor do they have the gift of healing or discernment. An apostle who doesn’t cover any leaders, but just seems to wander around, not really leading anyone and not building up the church in some way (I did not say ‘a’ church, I said ‘the’ church, which is a word for another message). People who can’t seem to give an accurate word, no matter how hard they try, or who give words that are so convoluted, nobody understands them. People who seem to sound good – maybe they can preach the part, look the part, or sound the part – but who, at the end of the day, just don’t have what is needed to measure up to the claims that they have – are operating and misleading via a “false anointing.” The second they are somehow confronted with this, even if it’s done in an innocent way (such as not agreeing with the word or not accepting something that they say), they suddenly turn and become punitive, demanding repentance or somehow questioning your own relationship with God as being sub-par to their own.

The reason why we are told to beware these types is not just because they can mislead us into error. That is part of it, but the real reason relates to deception. The line between a true anointing and a false one is rather thin and any one of us can deviate off into the realm of false appearances if we start doing anything that we do through our own human productions, mimicking and mocking the realm of the Spirit, thus blaspheming it (Matthew 12:31-32). God wants us, at all times, to remember the anointing moves through us, but is not us (2 Corinthians 4:7). The deception of the elect, the chosen, of those whom God has His hand upon, is about far more than denying Jesus and turning to someone else; it is about the principle of idolatry, which we see all throughout the Old Testament. The Israelites always claimed to be of God and wanted to rely on God when things were difficult for them or being followers of God seemed to be beneficial. Israel consistently wanted the benefits, but didn’t want the exclusivity of following God as He required them to. The false anointing leads us into a similar state: we want God’s benefits but we want to be enchanted and entertained by the false anointing, as well. Too often, we want to be around people who keep us with the appearance of God, but who actually deceive us into thinking we are all right where we are, with the attitudes and issues we have, and that God is not asking us to change.

False christs and false messiahs are a far more serious problem for the Body because they reveal to us the deceptions we all have: the hopes to be more than we are or than God has for us, the desire to hear that we don’t have to change or transform, and the concept that we can produce an anointing for ourselves, as long as it looks just like we have been transformed to other people.

Beware the real “false christs” and “false messiahs” that walk among us every day, in our churches, our lives, on the internet, even on television or radio. God has called us to be alert and aware, and understand the way the anointing works. If something or someone sounds eerily like exactly what you want to hear at that moment…it’s time to step back, pray, and consider a false anointing is at work with a familiar spirit behind it.

© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

Accepting The Gifts God Gives You

“What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit. God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all.” – 1 Corinthians 12:1-5, MSG

When I was a kid, I wanted to be tan. We all look at me now and laugh when I say that, because there is absolutely no way in heaven or on earth that I would ever be tan. I didn’t know I had albinism when I was that young, but I did know fully well that if I went outside in the sun all day without sunblock on (and sometimes with sunblock – and nobody ever believed me that I was getting burnt with the sunblock on until I did some research when I was, oh, say, 31), I was going to get sunburned. I never had a tan phase. I went from white to red to burnt in a matter of an hour or so, and the longer I stayed out, the more burnt I got. Even when the burn would heal over and peel, I wouldn’t be tan. I would go in the reverse, from burnt to red to white, all over again.

Then I wanted long, straight, black hair, like my friend had. I hated my red hair. I am still not crazy about it, thus why it is covered up with this pretty platinum-colored dye (and ask anyone, I look far better as a blonde than I ever did as a redhead). My hair was so rust-colored, it was almost brown in spots, and I could never get it to do what I wanted with it. I never had a hair texture that could be worn long without a relaxer and my mom was opposed to using that kind of stuff on our hair when we were little, so I, being me, spent years trying to have long hair (accepting it would never be black, but not that it couldn’t be worn long), because it was what I wanted.

I am telling you these stories because I think we have grown to covet certain gifts over others in the Body today, just like I wanted to be tan and have black hair, but no matter how covetous of some of them we desire to be, the spiritual gifts of God are given to us by Him, and we get what He gives us. No amount of claiming to have something you don’t have, no amount of hoping to have something you don’t have, and yes, no amount of pretending to play the part of that gift when you don’t have it is going to make it so.

It’s a great thing to desire spiritual gifts, but I think our first mistake is esteeming certain gifts over others. The Bible lists spiritual gifts as being spiritual gifts, and there is nothing in the Bible that sets certain charismatic gifts above the others. The charismatic gifts are open to any believer, at any time, at the choosing of God. This doesn’t mean, however, that every single believer has every single gift. Nor is every single person in church called to be in ministry, or equipped with a five-fold gift, nor do people in the five-fold all have every single five-fold gift within them (but this is a topic for another blog). But, what we have done today is make the apostle more desirable than the teacher; we’ve made prophecy more desirable than discernment; word of wisdom and word of knowledge more desirable than hospitality or mercy; healing more relevant than faith. The competition we have established between the gifts and between the various offices has set a uniquely contentious angle to spiritual matters, ignoring the fact that gifts exist for the purpose of edifying the body….not edifying the individual person.

I had an experience with two people who claim to be prophets last year that left a lot to be desired. These two people made a very similar “prophecy” as pertained to my life, at around exactly the same time. Everything within me rejected the words they both spoke. In fact, the innuendo in what they were “prophesying” was downright offensive in its nature, as they attacked my character and put me down as a person. They were both insistent, however, as to their accuracy. No matter how much I said no, no matter how much I tried to shut them up, they insisted they were prophetically accurate. They apparently forgot that I hear from God myself and being armed with an almost overly cautious spirit of discernment, I know when something isn’t from Him and I will not accept it, no matter how much people might want me to. Was I confused at points, sure – if for no other reason than for two people to call something out the same way at the same time is a little unusual – but we must never forget that we call “familiar spirits” as “familiar” for a very good reason. We always think of familiar spirits as those used with psychics and mediums, but “familiar” spirits are so-called because they know about our surroundings, our atmospheres, and they know how to manipulate us via emotions and issues in order to get us away from God by offering us what we think that we want or need.

One of the false prophets wound up disconnected from me and then disconnected herself from the rest of us, not before causing extreme issue and trouble with her fabrications, but she went on her way. The other one still attempts to contact me from time to time. This so-called “prophet” was off and running with a so-called “prophecy” over her own life that she felt was spoken to her, confirmed, and reaffirmed in many different ways. People were turning her over to this prophecy, stepping out of the way for it to happen, and going through formal steps to execute the process. She made plans, involved other people in it, told people about it, was preparing for it, and was pursuing it – both out of season and out of a sense of decency and order (if it was ever accurate at all, to begin with). She was excited and confident this was a new season for her and she was to walk in it. The connections were made, sealed, signed, and delivered, and she insisted she was following the leading of the Spirit.

Then it was three months later and she called to tell me she was no longer pursuing this thing she’d insisted a short time earlier was from “God.” Instead, she was trying to reconcile things and relationships she’d insisted were over, and go back to the thing she proclaimed to be an over and done with “season.” In my mind, I wondered what happened to the “prophecy” she insisted was true and of God a few months earlier. What happened to all that “word,” all those things she was seeing and sensing in the Spirit, all those things that she insisted and believed were from God – but now, all of a sudden, she now wanted to try and pursue things from a different angle? Was all of that “replaced?” Was it just “temporary?” Or was it, as from the beginning, a matter of things swaying whichever direction her emotions took her in – and not God at all?

People of God, this is not prophecy! It isn’t prophecy that a word is true for three months, you run around and tell everyone about it, you start planning your life around it, and then just as quickly as you picked it up, you drop it off somewhere. Even though no one wants to have discernment, I am SO THANKFUL for a spirit of discernment! Years ago, I would have swallowed such words, no matter how uncomfortable I might have been with them, because someone who claimed to be something “spoke” them. These are not people I can work with, and before someone starts, no, it is not a matter of unforgiveness. No matter how much they might want to try and cover things up or move on to something else, I know I cannot ever accept their so-called “gifts” in my life or in the life of the ministry again. I understand that we all have bad days and sometimes we speak out of the flesh, but you don’t have such a gigantic string of “misses” and then expect people to take you seriously. I can’t accept false prophets around me. I can love them as people, I can forgive them as human beings, but I cannot allow myself to get that close to them again when they are abiding in and actively living and working by false spirits.

The way this all relates to my initial stories: no matter how much I wanted to be tan, I was not going to be tan, because I don’t have enough pigment in my skin to become tan. No matter how much I wanted long, straight, black hair, like my friend had, I was never going to have it. I can cover up my red hair (or whatever color it is thirteen years after I started dying it), I can straighten it if I wanted to, but I am still going to have the same exact hair I have always had underneath the dye and the styling. Somewhere in here, I had to grow up and accept I have the hair I do and I have the skin pigment (or lack thereof) that I do and just deal with it. Getting sunburned and sitting around wearing a black wig was not going to change the truth underneath all of it. Spiritual gifts are no different: we get what we get and we need to learn to make fruitful that which we have instead of trying to chase after and claim gifts we just don’t have. Everybody is not prophetic! Everybody does not have the gift of healing! Everybody does not have a “word” for someone else, especially all the time! We are getting too old and doing this too long to desire the gifts just because we want to “show them off.” In this day and age, God is calling us to grow up and mature, stop wanting gifts that we’ve made “showy” and start developing the ones He has given to us, because those are the ones He trusts us with and expects us to use.

I sense what I would dare to call an arrogance in the church today when it comes to matters of gifts. Everyone thinks they have everything and are all-sufficient just as they are. They seek to use their gifts to promote themselves and their ministries instead of glorifying God. It is almost impossible to work with others today without a sense of competition and a spirit of contention creeping in, because everyone is trying overly hard to advance themselves and their own work. I can’t tell you how many people I know who claim to be prophets or have gifts of prophecy, and I have yet to see or validate anything they have said come to pass. I see too much spiritual bipolar disorder, with people running to and fro on various emotional highs, only to crash down when all the things they have said on an emotional high disguised as the Spirit fail to come to pass.

In the Old Testament, it only took one false prophecy for a prophet to be deemed false and be stoned. Nowhere in the Bible is a gift or the ability to have a gift put ahead of the fruit that one bears in the Kingdom. Nowadays, people claim to be “prophets” and repeatedly feed us false words, over and over again, and we still chase after them, accept them, and seek them out in contrast to God’s commands. We chase after it because we covet it, we covet the word, we covet the gifts. We don’t value the gifts enough to use the ones we have and connect to those with true gifts. Always beware people who claim to be so “gifted,” yet seem threatened by or fail to respond to the gift of discernment. Always beware those who seem unable to accept correction when it comes from an accurate source (yes, we can throw around correction as an evil, confusing force, especially in the wrong hands). Always beware those who seem to use their gifts to lord over others and to puff themselves up, rather than edifying the Body. Also, as a true word of caution: never accept a word if you know it’s not right. Someone could tell me tomorrow, “Go lay out in the sun and you’ll get a tan,” but it would be a lie from the pit of hell. Sometimes we need to remember that we can all hear from God, in one form or another. Maybe if we put the voice of God above those who tell us what we think we want to hear, we’d hear what He has to say to us about running after every person who thinks they are “it.” He’d tell us, none of us are “it.” Only He gets that title. Anyone or anything else who tries to tell us otherwise…is a false prophet.

© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

Losing Our Elasticity

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. – Proverbs 18:21 (KJV)

I’m not sure how to start this. I’m actually not sure what I even want to say. No, I take that back: I know what I do not want to say, and that’s any and all of it. God is making me do this, and since I’m the one forever saying, “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” I know I got to do what I got to do. Still, a part of me feels like writing this is akin to ministry suicide. Sometimes I wish God could let me be trendy for just a few minutes…but yeah, I know that is not going to happen.

So, I will start at the beginning.

Yesterday morning, Apostle Tim asked me if I knew what “gluten” is. I said, yes, I do know what it is. When the “gluten-free” fad began a year or two back, I looked it up, because people said it was responsible for all sorts of things: weight gain, bloating, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other things that gluten was now responsible for. The truth is that gluten causes none of these things, it is only problematic for those with celiac disease (which is on the rare side, in which someone basically has an allergy to wheat and wheat products). But in learning about gluten, I learned the following:

  • It is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
  • It gives elasticity to dough, making it flexible, easy to enlarge, “play with,” and shape.
  • It helps it to rise.
  • It helps it to keep shape.
  • Kneading helps formulate the strands of gluten in a bread product.

Gluten is a vital and important part of the bread-making process. It is something that, in its essence, makes bread what it is.

Then, we’re at a church service and at Communion, we’re standing in line to receive and Apostle Tim turns around and asks me, “So do you think the Communion bread is gluten-free?”

Oh, hahaha.

But, that inspired me to lean over and ask him something about 30 minutes later:

“Was manna gluten-free?”

He said no, it wouldn’t have been gluten-free because it was “fluffy.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…………

So that gave me an idea for a message: how we keep trying to change things and formulate things and, in the process, we are losing our “gluten.”

Then, about another hour later, it hit me.

For a good ten years (if not more, it’s at least ten in my collective memory), we’ve been hearing negative messages as pertain to the word “religion” and against “religious spirits” or “religious demons.” I honestly don’t ever remember the word “religion” being used in a negative context before this time. People used it to describe individuals who were church-going or devoted to a belief system in some other way. In other words, “religion” was described as a devotional practice, something that someone believed in and adhered to in a profound and deep way. It marked conviction; and yes, it was a sign of something good in someone.

When I was Catholic (I left the church almost 20 years ago), the major “dirty word” people pointed out to us was not “religion,” but “tradition.” They believed the Catholic Church to be in error due to its many man-made traditions. It wasn’t the “religion” of the church that made it wrong, per se, but the traditions that were guiding it. In essence, individuals who said such to me were correct – the traditions, concepts, ideas, and things people had made up and passed off as being of God were the problem within the church.

Many today are surprised to learn the Bible does not actually speak negatively about religion. There is no such “religious spirit” designation, as people discuss, that marks people in a bad way. The only distinction the Bible makes between religion is that which is either true or false – and believers are encouraged to embrace true religion, rather than false:

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:26-27, NASB)

This is very, very key to the realities of religion and why we have to be careful with what we say in church today. For a church that is constantly obsessed with words, speaking words, making sure our words agree with God’s, about speaking the Word, and about speaking encouraging things, it is amazing how much of what we say is either incorrect or taken out of context. If we truly believe “life and death is in the power of the tongue,” that should mean far more to us than just saying things we want – it should mean we aspire to align ourselves with properly understanding His intentions and what He has to say to us and about us.

So…if the term “religion” is only used in the context of devotion…we don’t have any excuse for using it improperly. I don’t care how we are using it socially or casually; we are using it wrong and we are calling something out of people improperly. If the true spirit of religion is to use our words properly, assist the poor and needy, and keep ourselves from sinning – and we are speaking AGAINST this “spirit” and casting it out of people or calling it problematic, is it any wonder that the church is completely self-centered and selfish? Everything that is good and noble, self-disciplined and self-sacrificing we are CASTING OUT OF PEOPLE…is it any wonder that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge?” (Hosea 4:6, NASB) We esteem ourselves to be so much better and smarter than our “religious” ancestors…but we’re missing the point of devotion in our pursuit to sound more progressive or better than them.

“Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “Was I not joking?” (Proverbs 26:18-19, NASB)

“And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4, NASB)

Once again, echoing the fact that we hear so much about words (it makes me think we are hearing about them incorrectly), you would think we’d pay attention to something like this. The Word says, right there, that any time we are trying to pull one over on someone, when we are just a little too casual with our speech or are just a little too nasty, that it’s not funny, even when we try to cover it up with “jest.”

Now we all know we’re not supposed to make “fun” of people who are disabled, people who are somehow ill or sick, or people who have issues, but it seems as if we feel it totally acceptable, even enjoyable, to poke jest at those we deem to be “religious.” Such can be anyone that seems different from our own systems, our own “exterior forms” of devotion – anything more ancestral, liturgical, or pious – is the first to get made fun of, mocked, deemed as “inferior,” or often outright disgraced in our churches – even from the pulpit (and yes, I have been guilty of this myself – which means I need to repent, too.)

The verses above, however, mean every joke we make against more traditional churches, against liturgical services, against every mocking behavior we exhibit – we are accountable for all of it. We aren’t supposed to be making fun of people or of devotion. There is no “Oh, that’s not how I meant it,” because that verse in Proverbs makes it really clear that we shouldn’t be doing it at all, not even to begin with. The pursuit to not be “religious” has resulted in a whole new “religious” trend against being “religious.” In pursuit of whatever it is that people think they are trying to do, we’ve created an entirely new tradition whereby things are judged solely on their external qualities (style of music, devotion, worship, etc.) and not on the heart or quality of genuine worship. People can go wherever they want and have nothing more than an exterior form of belief, but deny the power thereof. They can be any denomination they want and learn the right time to sit, stand, kneel…or raise their arms…or cry…or look devoted…or dance…or jump around…and they can be totally devoid of the Spirit. For all the outcries against religion, the church has not gotten more sincere, it has gotten more superficial. Instead of addressing the issues of legalism (which is a spirit that needs to be addressed), we are just encouraging people to be self-centered and not consider other people in their actions or live their faith. We’ve just replaced new traditions with old ones, all of which are based on the opinions and speculation of human beings…and nullify the Word of God: “So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect]. (Matthew 15:6, AMP)

The Lord tied it all together for me: we, as the church, have lost our “gluten.” We have lost the elasticity, the ties that bind us together with other believers and the ties that bring us to a place where we can expand and move out upon the earth. We are creating spirits, destroying the church with our own words, and making it so we look the same, but aren’t at the basis of what makes us function, work, and hold our “shape.” Our own enemies are right within our backyards, in our own churches, speaking this, that, and something else, and we are cheering them on…as they take away everything that unites the church: past, present, and future. We’re losing our elasticity…and just like people take gluten out of a product and the result is a different consistency, taste, and texture, so the church is being fed a false manna that tastes different, has a different texture and is not as nutritious…but looks the same.

And we’re losing it all through our words, what we say to one another, what we teach, encourage, and what we allow to take root in us because we’ve heard it said so many times, over and over.

If a system is false, then identify it as such with proof. I am not advocating unity with every single person that claims to be a believer and I do not believe every church out there is right. But that’s a discernment call and something we should be working to discover in greater understanding. It’s something for the theologians and apologists to sort out (of course, we don’t have many of those now, but that’s a topic for another day). Stop talking against all religion before we destroy any desire for the church to serve humanity that may be left. Stop making fun of people, and grow up. Have some respect, because that respect may just translate to saving a soul or bringing someone to a deeper knowledge and understanding of faith.

We’re picking all the wrong battles. We are fighting all the wrong things. We are creating imaginary enemies. Instead of trying to figure out how we can separate ourselves as far as possible from religion and the past, let’s figure out how we can impact this generation. Let’s get back to our elasticity, that which comes from kneading dough, that brings many elements together to form a bond and a purpose beyond what it may seem. Let Jesus do a work in you…a religious work according to the Word, understanding the fullness therein, and the blessing that comes only from it.

Yeah, we eat the fruit of life or death as comes forth from our own mouths, from words that we shall be accountable for…let’s stop swallowing death whole, OK?

© 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

Power For Today Magazine, May/June 2014

Power For Today Magazine, May/June 2014

Power For Today Magazine: Power For Today Magazine, May/June 2014

Power For Today Magazine is published bi-monthly and is a publication of Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries. March/April 2014: The Power Of Suggestion. Interview: Apostle Tim R. Hopkins of White Fire Prayer and Deliverance Ministries on the topic of "Boundless Churches". Guest articles:…

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My Vow Is My Own

“But my own vineyard is mine to give; the thousand shekels are for you, O Solomon, and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.” – Song of Solomon 8:12 (NIV)

“If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand…But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them.” (Numbers 27:10-14, NIV)

I hesitated on writing this note because God has been dealing with me about some things that are connected with the revelation herein, but I am not sure how to verbalize those things yet. It’s like, I have an idea of what God is revealing to me, but it doesn’t all make sense yet. In some of it, I have absolutely no idea how I am going to do what God is asking of me, and I have no idea how a lot of it is going to manifest. What God has been using to bring about the revelation is so deeply personal to me, I just assumed nobody else was going through, nor understanding of, the process. I also know that, a lot of the time when God is going to make a shift in my life, He gives me bits and pieces of the difficult parts, so I have awhile to get used to the idea. With these bits and pieces, God softens my heart, to open me up to the new possibilities and challenges that are ahead. In keeping with this, the revelation wasn’t something I considered was for anyone else…until tonight. A talk with my Apostle and another apostle confirmed for me that God is doing something in more than just me. We are entering into something new, something different, and I write this for those who are experiencing it, as well. It’s amazing to learn that in our walk, we really are never alone, even if we don’t know what is going on with others in their spiritual journey. I thank God for the cloud of witnesses that surround, especially as I write this.

For the first time in nearly 7 years, the Lord spoke the words “NEW SEASON” to me two days ago. For the amount of times we hear this term in church (i.e., over and over and over again), I don’t hear God say it to me very often. Seven years ago, thus making the last time I heard these words 2006, God told me I was entering into a “New Season.” The truth of the matter was I had no idea what God was about to ask me to do, or about the radical change I was about to undergo. “NEW SEASON” didn’t mean I’d get a brand new car, or a winning lottery ticket, or a bigger house – no, what it meant was I was at the end of one thing, and the beginning of something else. For the past seven years, I have followed the course God brought me through…sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes through tantrums, sometimes through tears, and through lots and lots of prayer…I have learned to walk in and experience His grace in a way that has transformed my life. Sure, I haven’t done everything perfectly. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Some of those mistakes changed the entire course of my life. Yet somehow I know I have never been out of God’s sight, nor have I ever completely veered off the path He has for me.

The result of my current season, in that revelation of grace, has given me the relationship with God that I now have. It has also birthed my ministry very differently than it was heading in prior. Seven years ago, those of you who know me today and didn’t then probably wouldn’t recognize me. This season changed me. It transformed me. Just as in every season, we start out as seedlings and then mature to full harvest, so what we see now is the harvest of this season. I didn’t realize it was harvest time, however. This “NEW SEASON” was a total shock to me.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: I was FINE with the season I was in. I was NOT asking God for anything major, just things to help me continue to maintain where I was, and do whatever I needed to as I continued on. I was not nagging God 200 times a day like I was at the end of my last season, telling Him this was all just too hard and if He didn’t do something tomorrow, I would just up and drop dead. I love writing. I love teaching. I love preaching. I love going to the different churches. I love working with and training leaders. I love North Carolina, I like ministering here. It did not bother me that I was not on television. It did not bother me that I wasn’t on the radio at the moment, being in-between stations. I was FINE. I was not looking for any more than I had. I was comfortable.

So, one day, I literally woke up about three weeks ago and…everything felt different. Nothing had changed, except me. I didn’t feel like I belonged where I was anymore. It was a strange feeling, almost like being totally disconnected from my life. I didn’t feel restless, just extremely confused. I suddenly had one of the worst inabilities to write I’ve ever had in my entire life. I started wondering what it would be like to be on the road more, in different cities, reaching bigger audiences and more people. I wanted to do stuff that wasn’t in North Carolina. I wanted to establish ministry centers in different cities. I wanted to go and minister further westward, all the way to California. I wanted to preach in different places around the world, and train different leaders. I had a vision of an ordination in a foreign country. I wondered more about legal ends for media ministry. I wanted to host more events in a year than just the one or two we are known for. There are personal situations that I wanted resolutions to, and new personal opportunities to come forward and have their chance. I suddenly wanted more than the comfort zone I’d grown accustom to. I was no longer FINE…I was no longer COMFORTABLE…

…And I was MAD.

So, God and I had a “yell” session. You know what those are: the sessions where you yell at God, and He doesn’t answer you (it’s just God not speaking about the vow, like the verse above says). Where it feels like God is giving you the silent treatment…so you get even more mad. What do we do when God gives us the silent treatment? We try to explain how we are feeling to someone else. Then they can agree with us and we can feel like God is just being difficult! So, I tried to first explain it to my mom, and then I went and tried to tell the friend that I run and tell everything to. It was really hard because I didn’t know how I was feeling. That’s what I said: “I don’t know why I feel the way I do, I don’t know what is going on, I just have this feeling and I don’t like it.” Thus, their advice: “Wait on God, He’ll let you know what to do.” GRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I didn’t like that advice. I wanted something deep and profound that would explain WHY I felt the way that I did, and WHY I was having this issue, and WHAT I should do about it. WAIT? Who wants to wait when GOD is being difficult?!!!! I mean, come on!!!

OK yeah, so I waited…and in the two weeks I waited, God started…dealing with me about things. I still have no idea what is going on, at this point, or why God is dealing with me about things, I just know I was not enjoying it very much. By this point, I was noticing a lot of things around me: things in people…things in my ministry…things in myself. Some of what I was seeing, I just didn’t like. All I wanted to do was scream and tell God to take this call and shove it. I actually told my mother I wanted the anointing of a cashier in a grocery store so I could just have a job that I went to everyday, and then go home and not care about it anymore. This is not fun, this is not the plan, this is not what I WANT.

And then I wonder, when is ministry ever about what I want?!!!!!! Something to ponder. Breakthrough! Revelation: God wants me to be better than FINE.

Then, two days ago, God says “NEW SEASON.” Hmmm. So THAT’S what this is all about: it’s time for a new season. All the things God placed on me to think about SUDDENLY are things for this new season. To get to this new season, to the new work, to the new call, yes, even to the new of my life…I am going to have to leave a lot of former behind. It is time for me to step up in a greater way and recognize that my work, my walk, my relationship, and my vow to God is my own. I have to do what He is asking of me. I cannot wait for someone else to get the vision and do it with me or for me. God has asked this of me. That means, despite the nervousness I admit I do have, I have to trust God to provide for me so I can do it. I must also trust that sense of grace He has given me over these years, to realize and recognize if He thinks it’s time to move past FINE, it’s time to move past it!

For a good part of my walk, I admit that I have been guilty of trying to get other people to either take on my ministry as theirs or expect them to understand it as theirs. I have used people’s lack of compilation with my concept of transference as an excuse not to step out in obedience to God in the way I should, all too many times. As I prepare to enter my “new season,” I am realizing my call, my work, the things God has called me to do, are my own. My agreement with God to do these things is also my own. My God in heaven, Who is my first love, my true spiritual husband, the first one I am bound to in keeping with the Word, has heard my vow to Him, and I must keep it. It isn’t something that I can explain to someone else, or make someone else understand, especially if they themselves are not going through it. When I found two people who were also going through it, we realized the “spiritual butterflies” (Thank you Apostle Julie Harvey for that term!) were at hand…and they just knew. As God pushes us out of our caves, we are aware of an overwhelming sense of responsibility for what God is asking of us. That, I believe, is where a lot of our struggle lies as we move away from comfortable and “fine” things onto the unknown territory where God rests our promise for this season. As we step out into the unknown, we realize our own responsibility to follow God. For the first time in a long time, we may not have our entire support system or comfort zone cheering us on, because we’ve gone to a point where all of them cannot come. The vineyard is ours, the decisions are ours…but we need to step forward and offer all that we have to God, especially as we enter into a new season. No longer can we rely on everything we did in the old – we must come to a place where anything that holds us back, may hinder us, or yes, may not be forcing us to be quite as accountable to God as we thought we were – is left in the season where we flourished and prospered for that time.

I still don’t have all the answers about where God is taking me, what He is asking of me, or what is next. I do know I have stopped fighting it, because I can recognize it is time for what God has declared. I am waiting on Him for all the answers, and for now, He has told me to PREPARE. So, that I am doing. In the meantime, I wait for more visions, for more dreams that give direction, and for more instructional words as God reveals all this New Season is to contain.

And, I am so thankful for the conversations this evening…because it lets me know I am not alone as I prepare to walk into all that is next. God always lets me know I am not crazy once I stop being so stubborn. Thanks, God. Oh yes, and thanks to everyone who is helping me through this time…both those who know and those who didn’t even realize it. I’ll see y’all more in the new season, when I am sane again.

(c) 2013 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

The Apocalypse Watch Journal, December 2011

Apocalypse Watch Journal, December 2011

The Apocalypse Watch Journal: Apocalypse Watch Journal, December 2011

A journal of chronicling and understanding current events in the Last Days. Published twice yearly (June, December) by Righteous Pen Publications. In this edition, Featuring articles written by Dr. Lee Ann Marino, Cecile Jo Higginbotham, Jeff “Godsown”, Nina B. Marino, and Yolanda Y. Davis.

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Are You In The Midst Of A Jezebel?

Many of you read my note, “Identifying Judas.” We don’t hear a lot about Judas in the church today because we are very busy focusing on the Jezebel spirit. This focus has inspired me to write today about Jezebel and the Jezebel spirit. It’s not uncommon today for people to run around calling people “Jezebel” or referring to the “Jezebel spirit” without even the most basic understanding of what it means to be in the midst of a Jezebel. As believers and especially as leaders, we encounter a host of different spirits trying to attack our walk. The two main spirits that work to attack ministries today are Judas and Jezebel. As we’ve already looked at Judas, now we are looking at Jezebel. If we don’t rightly identify Jezebel, we don’t know how to handle her.

In the past year, I have correctly identified and dealt with the spirit of Jezebel no less than twelve times. This is scary when you think about it: if we boil that down, that is one Jezebel-infused person per month. If we divide it out, that’s one Jezebel approximately every thirty days. I don’t think this makes me a martyr. What it does prove is that Jezebel is alive and rampant, and trying to destroy legitimate ministries. Jezebel is out there. Ministers who tell me they don’t ‘have a problem with Jezebel’ are either lying, not active in ministry, or causing some sort of victory or division for the enemy on their own because people who are in ministry for real see Jezebel. They deal with her, encounter her, tackle her, and get rid of her.

The spirit of Jezebel is identified with a person to help us understand the spirit behind it. It doesn’t mean that Jezebel is only female, or that the spirit of Jezebel only influences one gender. The spirit of Jezebel also isn’t marked by the characteristics we grew up with to identify Jezebel. Jezebel is not some spirit running around influencing women to wear pants or red lipstick. In those days, there were no pants (for men OR women) and we have no indication women wore red lipstick yet. Make-up was worn as sun protection in those days and was worn by everyone – it was not unique to women in power. In fact, it was most often worn by slaves and those who worked outside. To start, we are going to look at Jezebel, look at her character, and understand her character profile so we can better identify and understand her spirit.

“In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.” (1 Kings 16:29-34, NIV)

Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, king over Samaria. One of the reasons I am posting this passage is because we need to understand something: Ahab was wicked, wrong with God, led astray, and into all the wrong things long before Jezebel came into the picture. He was an idolater, advocated sinful ways, and worked hard to provoke the Lord all by himself, all on his own. Even marrying Jezebel is described here as being yet another stab against the Lord. Many people portray Ahab as some sort of weak, spineless man who was just led astray by the evil Jezebel. Jezebel entered the picture because like begets like. He picked Jezebel for a reason. Her strengths, her need for control, her spirit of domination attracted her to him. Something in him recognized something in her, and their spirits called each other out.

When a leader willingly unites to a Jezebel – and when I say “willingly,” I mean that they allow Jezebel to run rampant in their church or ministry without consequence or disfellowship, that tells me something about the leader as much as it tells me something about their Jezebel. If things must be done decently and in order, Jezebel shouldn’t be given some major position or title in a ministry. She or he shouldn’t become the “second in command” or the “head” of any ministry, division of ministry, or other, because that means that the leader in that ministry is an Ahab. Sometimes in our attempts to look good, be diplomatic, or have their own needs met, leaders tolerate Jezebel to avoid having to deal with the difficulties and pressures of ministry on their own. Ahab represents rebellion; Jezebel represents power and control. Jezebel works in companionship with rebellious leaders. This means leaders must check their own selves for rebellion because when Jezebel comes, Jezebel must be dealt with; not married. Alliances are extraordinarily relevant in ministry – as relevant as they would be in any other arena, including politics.

We also can learn here that, on the outside, Jezebel appears completely respectable. It says she was the daughter of a king, so she had the appearance of royalty. She was positioned because of who her father was and who her husband was: but not because of who she herself was. That’s how Jezebel works: he or she attaches herself to a leader. They get their identity from being connected to that person, rather than who they may be. Think about Jezebel in the church today: Jezebel comes in looking like the perfect model of holiness. He or she claims to be all about the things of God and won’t tolerate anything to the contrary. He or she criticizes others about what they may do that he or she feels just doesn’t “measure up.” They seem to have it “all together” and are deeply critical of people who don’t have what they perceive themselves to have. The spirit that works within Jezebel is not low self-esteem, contrary to popular opinion. In fact, it is the opposite: Jezebel regards himself or herself so highly, nobody measures up to where they perceive themselves to be. They degrade and demoralize others with their opinions, position themselves in the places of power, and, within the church are quick to defend themselves as having a “ministry of correction.” They are critical, judgmental, bossy, and offensive. They may never step foot in a pulpit; in fact, they may avoid the pulpit like the plague; but there they are, making sure everybody knows exactly what they think about whatever someone else did, someone else’s calling, or someone else’s ministry.

Jezebel is also a witch, operating witchcraft. We will talk more about this later, but it is relevant to note that Jezebel was clearly a pagan. She was not numbered among the people of God, and was deliberately selected because she was not God-fearing. This means Jezebel was operating in her spirit prior to her queenship. She knew about control, power, manipulation, and the like all before coming to power. Jezebel knows how to operate to get exactly what he or she wants, and it doesn’t just start with some sort of notable life connection or event; it is a part of working, distinguished whenever they succumbed to that spirit of witchcraft.

We go along a few chapters forward in the Bible before we see Jezebel mentioned again. Jezebel the person is closely tied in with the story of Elijah. This also tells us something: Jezebel tries to destroy the ministry of a powerful woman or man of God. Jezebel doesn’t pick on ministries already full of strife and discord, because the spirit is already there. In those instances, Jezebel marries and connects to that ministry of Ahab. Jezebel attempts to wheedle, control, and damage valid ministries through her different methods.

“After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another. As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’” “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!” Elijah said, “As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.”
” (1 Kings 18:1-21, NIV)

We’ve now fast-forwarded three years in time, without a word about Jezebel until now, where we learn that she was killing the prophets of the Lord. Jezebel works quietly and slowly. After all, it takes time to destroy something someone has worked many years to build with the Spirit of God. Apparently Jezebel worked long and hard before she decided to tackle Elijah. Jezebel works slowly in his or her wake, and often has a trail of similar attempts and experiences behind him or her. By the time Jezebel has gotten to your work, you won’t be the first ministry they have attempted to destroy. Like with all spirits, there are some success stories to their destruction; and several that probably called it quits and she still tried to destroy after the fact. Jezebels have a long history within the church and among God’s people. They strike all different types of calls, all offices of the five-fold ministry, all ministerial appointments (bishops, elders, deacons), men as well as women, new ministries as well as the established, and big ministries as well as small ones.

Jezebel behaves one of two ways: she is either real welcoming and inviting, and those under her and a part of her are welcomed with her. Those who conform to her can stay; those who don’t are brandished as in contrast to the Kingdom. Everyone else is afraid of Jezebel’s power and influence; that’s how he or she manipulates and controls. People also tend to fear Jezebel’s influence. I know leaders affected by Jezebel come to fear their own reputations because of what they think Jezebel will say. There is a natural instinct to run and hide from Jezebel and those married to Jezebel rather than confront the problem. If someone is afraid of somebody under their ministry, that’s a classic sign Jezebel is on the loose. Jezebel turns from helpful to intimidating, unafraid to throw weight or influence around.

This passage reveals to us the true spiritual influence of Jezebel. It indicates eight hundred and fifty false prophets fed with her – feasting with her in power, feasting on the offerings of idols. They wanted to feast in the good places; not be fed by ravens, as Elijah was. Jezebel manipulates people intrigued by her so-called power and influence. It’s easy to be intrigued and bewitched by the gifts someone seems to have; to be moved by the people they claim to know or have known in the past; and to be taken in by lives and judgment. Jezebel comes with every influence known to man: he or she will give you all the money you need for your ministry; he or she will “pray” for you and make sure you get connected to all the “right” people (because all the people you are around now are wrong as far as she’s concerned, anyway); he or she will do anything you want…as long as you bow down and worship. The people said nothing because they were compromising themselves and they knew better. They all knew they were swayed with the appearance of Jezebel…and weren’t quite ready to stop playing with her just yet.

In the next sections, we see Elijah on Mt. Carmel, showing up the pagan priests, running and hiding from Jezebel because she put out a hit on his life, going back to the work of ministry, and God’s call on Elisha. It is another couple of chapters before we see Jezebel mentioned again. In her decree, however, we see Jezebel’s purpose: to destroy the work of the men and women of God. Jezebel does this by attacking as personally as they can.

“Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth. But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?” He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote: “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’” Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!” “I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ “And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.” (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.) When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” (1 Kings 21:1-28, NIV)

Now we get to see Jezebel in full-fledged action. The spirit of Jezebel operates witchcraft as, we properly understand, witchcraft is the spirit of power and control. Jezebel begins to operate this power by playing on the weaknesses in leaders. He or she comes in, looking helpful and indispensable. Jezebel will “handle” the situation in the leader’s name and on the leader’s behalf. He or she LONGS for the anointing, the power, the call on their leader. They will mimic it, attach to it, and yes, even operate in its name for their own end. When the leader doesn’t respond the way he or she wants, suddenly they aren’t handling things in the way that they “should be” according to Jezebel. They are accused of disgracing the office, not being a valid leader, and start sowing that seed here, there, and everywhere…all the meanwhile, Jezebel is busy at work, destroying lives, people’s reputations, and work to get what he or she desires, but is never destined to have.

Clearly Jezebel defies order. Jezebel wasn’t the king and had no right to handle anything, signing his name or using his seal of authority for herself. She manipulated until she could usurp and take what she wanted. Jezebels today hang around with leaders and claim all sorts of things: we shouldn’t need to use “titles,” we shouldn’t need this or that…and yet they declare themselves to be prophets, prophetesses, speaking for God, or delivering a word from Him. Jezebel misrepresents herself on purpose: because the spirit of Jezebel has no authority when it comes down to it. Jezebel is who he or she is because of who they cling to around them. Not tolerating order, Jezebel defies rules. There are certain things we simply don’t do in the Kingdom of God. There is a proper way to handle disagreement, false leaders and teachers, and how to approach an elder or leader in the faith. Jezebel defies this order. Jezebel will not be corrected or hear anything other than what he or she wants to hear. They will not submit themselves, nor accept their own gifts, callings, and place.

This tells us that Jezebel doesn’t just defy order; Jezebel works disorder, which is akin to witchcraft. In a recent note, I point out that the opposite of order IS in fact, witchcraft because it is the insistence that someone DOESN’T have to subject themselves to God’s order. The result is disorder, but the root is witchcraft, which operates by a rebellious spirit. The result is, every time, a division between the people. We can see from every passage about Jezebel provided that Jezebel worked division within the kingdom. She divided leaders, prophets, people of God, and ran fear in all of them. As long as everyone was busy pointing fingers at everyone else, nobody stopped long enough to see Jezebel as the root of the problem. The same is true in the Kingdom: Jezebel gets people into enough of a state that everyone looks at everybody but her. Jezebel comes in to create disunity, break up the presence of the Spirit and His order established within ministries, and then carry on with her raving sense of dishonor and disparity.

Those who make an alliance with Jezebel live to regret it, as they regret the defiance that brought them to unify with him or her. This was true with Ahab as it was with leaders today who come to a place of repentance and realize they never should have joined with someone carrying that spirit. What has been birthed from their union will lack God’s favor if they do not each repent from such an influence.

This time, we don’t hear about Jezebel again until 2 Kings 9, where le learn about her demise:

“Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” Then he opened the door and ran….Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?” He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot. Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like refuse on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’” (2 Kings 9:6-10, 30-37, NIV)

Jezebel was all set to try and manipulate someone else. She was ready to put her best foot forward yet again: but this time, she met her match. When Jezebel is dethroned, she is dethroned so nothing can be found of her. The spirit of Jezebel must be killed – cut off, destroyed, and found no more. That’s the only way the spirit of Jezebel does not conquer.

Revelation 2:18-25 gives the sole New Testament reference to Jezebel, spoken of now in a person as spirit: “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come.” (NIV)

Even in the first century church, the church we tend to think had it all together (it didn’t, if we truly study the New Testament) had Jezebel. Jezebel back then fit the profile as it had in Jezebel the person: she was tolerated (clearly by an alliance, because she had assumed a position of power). She called herself something she was not. She misled the people of God through teaching and manipulation. Here it talks about sexual immorality and eating the food sacrificed to idols – in other words, she was an idolater, operating pagan sexual rites and encouraging the people of God to engage in witchcraft. She was given time to repent, she was handled properly by her leaders (yes, in the face of Jezebel, leaders must still conduct her disorder according to the Word), she was brought correction, but was unwilling to repent. The result would be God would allow her to be turned over to a reprobate mind. She would suffer and her children – just as was said of Jezebel – would be turned over to death. Here we can understand this to refer to those who are spiritual children of Jezebel – those who follow her as their false leader. She needed to be conquered, rather than conquer.

If you’re experiencing Jezebel…work in correction, according to the Word. When the word of correction is not heeded, cut Jezebel off before Jezebel gains following and works mischief and witchcraft in the house of God. Trust God for your reputation, the reputation of your work, and STOP TOLERATING JEZEBEL! God brings us help, assistance, and followers in ministry…but they don’t divide, conquer, and usurp. Stand on your spiritual authority and crush the serpent’s head manifested in the spirit of Jezebel!

(c) 2011 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.