A Letter To Those Who Are Disconnected From The Body

Please note: This message is not for those who are in leadership, starting a church, preparing to start a church or who are in ministry and unable to go to a church every week, or for those who are in-between churches and waiting for the Lord to reveal to them where they need to go.  It is also not for those who are dealing with genuine church hurt or abusive leadership.  This is for those who truly do not believe they need to be a part of church at all, in any context.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. –Colossians 3:17 (KJV)

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men – Colossians 3:22 (KJV)

I was not planning on writing anything today.  I have been working on a website remodel/update and I want to finish that, and anyone who does anything having to do with web design knows how incredibly time consuming web design can be.  I am observing things, however, and I can’t be silent.  I have to speak about what I am seeing because I wouldn’t be a leader if I didn’t.  Already for too long, we are going silent on these matters.  We are letting them fester and infest and go further and further until they have infected the church so severely, we are now divided on matters.

It would appear that, if we look at Facebook, YouTube, other social media sites, and often our own churches, that it is impossible to have a conversation about anything church-related. I believe the reason for this is because we, as a church, have wandered so far away from the order and authority we are supposed to have, none of us know our place anymore.  We believe that because we think we can hear from God (note I said “think we can hear from God”– I know too many people who think God’s voice sounds a lot like theirs” that means we have the right to quarrel and argue, defending what we think we know,when all-too-often, the loudest noisemakers are those who do not know anything at all.

I am standing in the center, looking around, as raging debates representing extremes are found all around me.  Nobody steps back and tries to see a balanced viewpoint or maybe come away with a different perspective; they just want to further their own…whether they can back it up, or not.

To which I ask why – and unto who – do you do what you do?

One such debate I recently saw that quickly escalated out of control was one that started over a picture that gave a sentence or two as to why the individual quoted is no longer going to church.  There was no context given to the statement in the picture.  Those of us looking at it have no idea what really happened to the individual in the picture, nor did it let us know the entire story behind the statement.  Those who commented under the picture in agreement stated similar reasons for their own justifications for not going to church: abusive leaders, feeling like they didn’t fit in or were not welcomed,disagreement with teaching, feeling like the pastor played “favorites,” and the major gold-mine of the debate: the belief that somehow the pastor’s “interpretation”of teaching was incorrect, and the pastor did not align with what the individual thought was true.  There was no respect,nor honor, for leadership in this discussion. These individuals clearly felt that because they didn’t get their way,they weren’t going to go to church anymore. Instead, they were going to stay at home and “figure” it all out on their own, what was true and what was not. They were going to “do it right,” whereas the entire church world has it all wrong. 

Nobody suggested maybe we should pray for those hurt by the church or by authority in the church. The debate was totally over whether it was acceptable or not to stop attending church.

When someone came into the debate and argued that we do not have the right to just disconnect from the Body – and affirmed that it is understandable to be hurt, but that does not mean we can just do whatever we want on our own – that individual was met with Bible verses taken out of context, including those that speak of not fellowshiping with non-believer sand coming out from Babylon and being separate. People also provided their “laundry list” of things that they defined as“fellowship” and how much better those things were than church.

But…this is not Babylon…this is not non-believers…this is Church…um….I agree the church is not perfect, but, really…if you stay home long enough, nobody’s going to measure up to where you think you are.

And, while I am on it….You’re not having fellowship with “non-believers”because you are supposed to be “separate”…well who decided you were the one that is “right” and needs to separate? Is it at all possible that you are causing division in the Body and maybe…oh my God…YOU are the one who is wrong?

I must admit that I knew at least four of the people involved in the debate and at least two of the four were totally unqualified to stay at home and “figure” out the Word. They are not called to ministry, they are people who need leadership ina serious way, and the evidence of that was this discussion.  Two of them I’d reached out to in non-Church related “fellowship” and for whatever reason, both of them bailed on me – so they don’t get to “complain” as far as I am concerned.  In my experience, I didn’t throw them out or tell them they didn’t measure up, they pulled away to justify their own isolationism (because they knew if they get in the room with me, suddenly all the stuff they think won’t be so “right” anymore). 

There is nothing wrong with authority.  We need to stop acting like there is something inherently wrong with acknowledging God gifts people differently,leadership gifts are gifts, and that some people are leaders, and some people aren’t.  If you’re not a leader, you can have a personal relationship with God, you can learn from God, you can hear from God, but you are not qualified to decide what’s true for the entire world.  You are not in a position to decide, all on your own, what dictates “light” and “darkness.” That’s not your job.  If you really feel something that’s taught is in error, it is your place to go to your leader and ask for clarification or show clarification, not throw a big fit on the internet.  Maybe instead of sitting in the pew, angry because other people get promoted and you don’t, you should show some loyalty and knowledge of the Word and offer to do something to help out.  You don’t get to run the church from the pew; that is just not going to happen. And as I recall from the Word, it’s a humble heart and a right spirit that proves whether or not you are ready for promotion, not an arrogant one that demands your own way.  Maybe the reasons you are running into problems in church has nothing to do with doctrinal differences, but simple pride.

I’ve been a leader for seventeen years and I assure you, try it for a few days and let me know if you still view your leaders the same way.  I am sure that after dealing with some of what we do, you would be quite content to just sit in the pew and be respectful and obedient.

Instead of blaming the reason you are distant from church on leaders, maybe you need to look inside of yourself and ask why you can’t find anywhere to attend that measures up to your own standards.  It’s not that you are anointed or so special,it’s that you are just out of order.

I don’t question that abusive leaders exist, but I think we need to step back and re-evaluate just what it means to be “abusive.” Promoting people who show they are ready for promotion and not promoting trouble-makers and other individuals who just don’t act right because they aren’t getting their way is not abusive.  It’s not abusive to train those who are competent for leadership and not train you if you are acting all kinds of incompetent. Being a leader means sometimes we have to make difficult decisions and while I am truly sorry to all of those who feel somehow slighted, I speak on behalf of all leaders when I say that it is irresponsible to let someone who thinks they know everything run wild with what is taught or what is done in church when there is no such evidence they are qualified to do so.

It’s also very easy to play “a verse for a verse” and feel you have a verse that proves something wrong, with no context or understanding behind it.  Instead of using the Word as a weapon, maybe it would be wiser to step back and listen a little bit to gain some context.

Lastly, if you are unhappy at the church you are in or have attended, there isn’t a shortage of ministries and churches to attend.  Find something else instead of being distant from the Body.  There really isn’t an excuse for such an attitude.  I don’t believe “church” has to be all about a Sunday service.  There are church services, Bible studies,groups, and beyond – perfect for any situation that exists out there and for any type of search.  There is no excuse for staying at home, all by yourself, and interpreting things however you darn well please.   

God has put us in the Body of Believers for our own benefit:to keep us together, unified, on the right path, and in His purpose and plans for us.  The Body of Christ is a socializing experience: where we learn about others, where we are to grow and change, and where we learn, just as in any family, that we don’t always get our own way all the time.  I have certainly been in places where I did not feel welcomed, and I made a point to go on to a place where I did find that feeling of welcoming.  Churches, ministries, studies, etc. are still full of people and that means they don’t always act right – but it also means that we go on to a better answer, we don’t just stop everything all together and sit around by ourselves.

So, to those who aren’t going to church because it’s not going your way – why do you go to church in the first place? Are you going to worship God, or are you going to be seen of men?  Maybe this debate reveals more of your own hearts than it does the issues in the church.  If you are going for God, if you are a part of this for God, then you will find somewhere to go because God will guide you.  You will be open to the Spirit’s voice and let Him guide you.   Let God arise…and do what you do unto Him…instead of trying to be seen of men.

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

Get In Line…Or Get Marked

I recently posed a question on Facebook: “OK, I have a serious question to pose for leaders: We all hear incessantly about apostles and order, and how we’re supposed to be here for order. So why is it that every single time we seek to establish order, people start rebelling? If they acknowledge that’s what the apostle is for, why is it such a problem every time we operate in and function in our office? And if they truly believe – as they claim – that’s what the apostle is for – why are they even surprised when we get on them for kicking up?”

I asked this question in genuine sincerity.  I wasn’t asking it to cause trouble or offense, and I am not writing this note for these reasons, either.  I am in no way calling out anyone’s answer or criticizing anyone…everyone’s responses made me think, even more about the question and the issues we, as a church are facing.  And, given I tend to write on my reflections, I wanted to share those, here.  I am hoping that through some dialogue we can talk about some of this stuff and come to some answers.  It seems like, as I look over the church today, we are surrounded by questions, just as the one I posed.  As leaders, we are often left standing back, holding the bag, not exactly sure what happened or why, but we are the ones who have to deal with it.  While yes, I acknowledge and admit that being a leader does involve that, I also wonder…where is the rest of being a leader today?

I’ve been in ministry for seventeen years; I have been ordained for twelve of those seventeen years; first as a pastor, then as an apostle, and now approaching, as of August, as a bishop.  I have seen notable changes, having worked in ministry for so long, in how things are done and in how we treat people.  In days gone by – and it’s not so many that I can’t remember, which means that things have changed of recent.  I’m not talking about stuff from fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago – our attitudes are different in how we respond to things, in the here and now.

I should probably back up and explain where the question came from in the first place.  The problem with that is the question goes so far back, I’m not really sure where it began.  I’m not sure it has one beginning, and that means it probably doesn’t have one ending, either.  In the more immediate present, the question arose after I was viciously attacked by someone who had been under my ministry for approximately 3-4 years (and known me for approximately 8) and by another person who had also known me about 7-8 years, but always remained on the “outskirts” of the ministry.  As a leader, I’d seen things in both of these individuals for quite some time.  I did my best to instruct both of them, as they both came for instruction at different points in time.  I was always consistent with them, even though other people might have come and said things to me about them.  I was always a leader; I was always their leader.  I was involved, concerned, and attentive.  In hindsight, and this is after much thorough examination, I know my leadership was not to blame, with either woman.  I am humble enough to admit when I am wrong about something, and have learned much over the years from those who left the ministry and their reasons why.  This instance, it wasn’t what I had done, or not had done.  The only thing I might have done was be too available as a leader for whatever needs might have existed in each situation, but I do not feel it was wrong to make myself present.  I have always made it a point to avoid being an “absentee” leader, one who is constantly “too busy” to bother with their people.  If that’s wrong, then that is what I did wrong.  I also do not question many changes are happening in this ministry and God is moving quickly.  He is, however, moving it in a way so that none are neglected and nobody is being left behind unless they so chose to stay behind.  Nonetheless, it does not change the fact that the actions of these two people in question was thoroughly uncalled for.    

To make the very long story very short, the one who was under this ministry got herself in a nearly three-month snit because someone else under the ministry was disciplined and she found out about it.  The matter had nothing to do with her, but she still felt the right to have an opinion on matters.  The matter festered within her, instead of coming and talking about it with me, to the point where she separated herself from everyone else and then felt as if she was being treated unfairly.  She went, in turn, to this other minister mentioned earlier, and the two of them concocted a long, complex story against me that involved other ministers and my home life, as well.  Instead of letting it rest at that, they went elsewhere with their mess.       

I am the first one to get on leaders who don’t uphold the integrity of the offices.  I am the first one who, when they make mess of ministry, need to be disciplined.  I do not question, however, that there is an order to things and it is not just the job of those submitted to leadership to walk around like a bunch of cowboys and start imposing disciplinary measures against leaders.  It is also not appropriate for people to go around making stuff up against leaders because they are angry or feel slighted.  In days gone by, not only would this have never been tolerated, it would never have gone to the levels people seem to take it to today.    

Now, back to the question at hand.

I asked the question because this is not the first time something like this has happened among leaders I know.  When things like this happen, I wonder why they seem so common today.  There are no “isolated cases” anymore.  The first people thing start on when we talk about issues like this is “bad leadership,” but that’s just not fair.  The problem of people’s actions is not bad leadership, it is something else – but rebellious people are not always the product of a rebellious leader.  It seems like more and more, people feel they have the right to behave however they so feel and they so easily justify their actions in the name of their “spiritual perceptions.”  Nine times out of ten, they aren’t picking up on anything but their aggrandized feelings and emotions that have been spun and spun until they can’t see anything but them.  It seems so easy for people to say and do whatever they want, with no regard nor respect for others, especially leaders, and the sacrifices that are made for them.  The answer to my question is that people do not have respect anymore because they do not fear God, and they do not fear God’s authority in their leaders.  The consistent answer I seemed to receive to my question was the same one I always seem to receive, no matter what the question is.  The underlying explanation I receive is always “human nature.”  Somehow, it is always implied that this is just how people are and that we can’t do anything about it.  Someone also always adds, without fail, that Jesus had to put up with it, too.  I don’t know how much these answers are acceptable to me anymore.  I’m not Jesus, leaders here are not Jesus.  We aren’t divine and while I understand that persecution does come upon believers, we should also be aware that we are being attacked by people who are supposedly believers, with the Holy Ghost operating inside of them, and these are people who know enough of Jesus to know better.  People who believe in Jesus shouldn’t flippantly institute persecution upon other believers and their leaders.  The Word tells us that we shall be persecuted by the world, not by those who are supposed to be in Christ!  

I also don’t question the human element in matters, but we all have to admit that there was a time in the church when we, as leaders, weren’t so apt to tolerate “human nature.”  When things were wrong, they were wrong, and they were dealt with immediately.  There were immediate and dire consequences for behaving in rebellion.  If you came against your leader, or you came against your church or denomination and your credentials were stripped, you didn’t just go to another church or another leader and tell a sad tale of woe to them and get reinstated somewhere else.  We took things like disfellowship and losing our credentials seriously.  Accusations against leaders were never randomly made, and were certainly not made in a disorderly way.  If someone had an accusation, it wasn’t based on what they “felt” spiritually, it was based on evidences and realities.  This isn’t “human element,” it’s diabolical, plain and simple.  It’s people, so full of self and so full of themselves that they chase after every whim of everything, feeling totally confident that if they behave badly in one place, they will be able to find someone, somewhere, who will believe their stories and “reinstate” them.  Instead of disciplining diabolical natures, we have become apathetic and simply accept it as part of ministry leadership.

It’s not that we trust the wrong people; as in my incidence, when people had nothing to work with, they just made something up.  I’m tired of the implication that this is the way things are for leaders and that we should just “get used to” things like this.  If they were random occurrences, that would be one issue.  These are not isolated cases.  This means that the church’s authorities need to come together on these matters and start disciplining people again.  If we expect to be respected, people need to have a good, healthy realization that leaders are authorities and that authority will be exercised as necessary.  We need to make ministry mean something again, which means we need to mark those that cause division and back up other leaders unless we have a reason not to.  It’s time to stop lying on God and stop telling people how they “know better” than their leaders and how they should just go off and disconnect from everyone else and do whatever they want.  Gifts are not everything.  It’s great to be gifted, it’s great to have spiritual gifts, but if you aren’t disciplined enough to make them fruitful, then your gifts aren’t any good to anyone.  It’s a myth that titles are unimportant, that we don’t need them, or that they don’t matter.  They DO matter, they DO mean things (that is why we must be rightly aligned with God’s call for our lives), and we need to live up to exactly what they mean until this rebellious, disobedient church is either reduced to an obedient remnant or people come around.  My ministry will line up.  I will line up.  What you do is up to do, but I do hope I will see you in the remnant.  Oh yes, and if you cross anyone I am connected with wrong, I will mark you myself if need be.  Mama ain’t playing anymore.  If we are going to be in ministry, we are going to line up and be as Christ desires us to be: not half as Christ desires, not with the “American” version of what God desires – but His Kingdom beyond a cutesy buzzword to print on a t-shirt.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.        

How Much Do You Want God?

There’s an old Zen story that reads: A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. “Because I want to find God.”

The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.”

“Air!” answered the man.

“Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.”

(From “Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors”)

 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. (Acts 17:27, KJV)

“The comparison of intimacy to breath is important because it reminds us of the first breath of life breathed into mankind by God at creation.  From that singular moment, we find the spark of life – that which gives it meaning, purpose, and creativity.  The word for “breath” used in Genesis 2:7 is “neshamah,” which literally means “breath, spirit.”FF  It refers to both the Spirit of God and the spirit living in man.  This tells us that the spirit which animates our life comes from God, and is a powerful connection between us and God, and us and other human beings.  Our very breath is a reminder of soul and spirit, of something that connects us to God from the very beginning.  From that first moment of true intimacy between God and humanity, we find a key purpose of intimacy: life.  Intimacy is a life-force that envelops, encompasses, surrounds, and is ever-with us.  Intimacy has a purpose, and that purpose is life, as we find a unity of people together, and people with God.   As the result of intimacy, life comes forth: natural, physical, spiritual, and an extension of the spiritual, creativity.  Intimacy inspires us; it inspires us to live, just knowing that connection exists that transcends something in the natural.  Intimacy proves life is more than what we may muse intellectually.  It is also a sensory and spiritual experience that has profound meaning as we pursue intimacy in trust in our lives.  If we deny that experience, we are denying a primary way we experience intimacy, and come into a place where we find the deeper discovery of God at work within, through, among, and around us.” – From Discovering The Beauty of Intimacy: Studies in the Song of Solomon, by Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino

A few events of recent are causing me to look around and look at the church differently than I have in years past.  This is the last thing in the world that I needed, or so we would think that I needed.  It’s no secret I already have a love/hate relationship with the church.  I look around at the ridiculous ruins that we call “church” and “believers” and I shake my head.  I have plenty of days where I cry over the state of the church, only to find myself upset and angered by something later.  It’s not an unrighteous anger.  I cannot believe what people get away with today – or maybe more aptly I should say, what they try to get away with.  It is so rampant, it scares me.  I have realized that the church today as a whole is using God as a forum to pursue a certain lifestyle.  Yes, the whole prosperity mess is in here, too, but it’s not just the prosperity preachers who are doing it.  Whether you watch television shows about large, extended families who insist they do not use birth control because they think it’s wrong and promote excessive parental control over their children, or you hear about the people who come for deliverance but want to barter or bargain about what exactly it is they are going to do or give up, or the vast numbers of people who don’t actually pray, but cast spells through their prayers, it seems like everyone’s got an agenda for and with God.  Instead of seeking God – instead of seeking Him earnestly for Who He is – people want God to further their own agendas.

So I ask you the question: how much do you want God?  Like the man in the story above, do you want God as much as you want air?  Do you want God more than anything and everything else in your life?  Or do you just put on the front about wanting God because you have something else you want more, something you are seeking to achieve through Him?  Sure, we say we want God – but how many of us could go through a test, being held underwater until we struggle, and then come up, saying we truly want God?  How many of us would love God enough to trust Him if time goes on and we don’t get the healing, deliverance, thoughts, feelings, things, etc. that we seek?  Would we still believe, or would it become about something else – would we turn on God?

I believe the prevalence of witchcraft (through rebellion, magic, spell casting, and manipulation) is prevalent in the church today because we want what we want when we want it and we are failing to have the relationship with God that we need to have in order to bring about a transformation in our lives.  We want God to “fix us” so we never have to hurt again or feel uncomfortable – but we forget that with deliverance often comes discomfort as we readjust ourselves.  If we aren’t seeking God like we need to, we will find something new to be delivered from.  No longer can we use our ailments, bondages, and spirits to our advantage (to control and manipulate other people).

In deliverance, we don’t just confront what happened to us, we also confront who we are and how we have used our bondages for our own personal spells and witchcrafts: to make people feel sorry for us; to claim that people do not understand as an excuse to hold on to things we know we must let go of; to justify ourselves through fear and intimidation (which is why people stay in a fearful place); to control the behaviors of other people (because they feel they have to be sensitive or understanding when they are around us); to intimate others with our hairline trigger emotions, be those anger, hysteria, or sorrow; and, perhaps, above all – to avoid being accountable and responsible.

In my life, I have dealt with the following: being a battered woman, abuse, clinical and bipolar depression, suicide, abandonment, rejection, rebellion, spirits of perversion knocking on my door, borderline rape and molestation (I’m not going to elaborate), chronic illness, physical pain almost daily since I was 16 years old, sexism, rejection from my own churches, not fitting in anywhere, not ever feeling particularly loved or cared about by people on a personal level, a former relationship that haunted me for nearly ten years after it was over, and many other things that have haunted me in my life.  When I came to God, I was over 200 pounds, unable to drive, I was told that I would probably reach a point where I was unable to walk, and to be told all this at the age I was at the time was terrifying.  When I finally got saved for real, when I finally went down in baptism and came up in Christ, I wanted God. I didn’t even ask God to heal me at that point in time.  I have always believed He could, but I didn’t ask Him to.  In those days, we didn’t have Facebook for me to go run to so I could harass person after person, asking for a “word.”  What I asked Him to do was show me His face.  As He has healed me and delivered me, He made me confront myself.  I had to look at what parts of this I was holding onto because I found a way to use those hurts, those spirits, those things to defend myself.  We use those different walls, emotions, and actions to keep ourselves where we are, and keep God – and His ways – out.   

So, you say you want to be delivered?  You want to be healed?  You want to be “set free?” Here is some food for thought:          

You need to want God more than you don’t want to hurt anymore.
You need to want God more than you want deliverance.
You need to want God more than you want a husband/wife.
You need to want God more than all that “stuff” you seek (houses, money, cars, etc.).
You need to want God more than you want to “feel good.”
You need to want God more than you want your healing.
You need to want God more than you want what you want.

There’s a radical difference between being truly desperate for God Himself – longing to know Him, be in communion with Him, walk with Him, and love Him – than being desperate for the things He can give you.  The intimacy God speaks with us is as near as our breath; as near as our life, as near as the air we seek as when we are without oxygen.  Many years ago, Juanita Bynum made a statement to the extent that we need to stop loving Jesus and be in love with Jesus.  She clarified the difference – loving Jesus means you believe Him to pay your light bill.  Being in love with Jesus means you will sit there and praise Him in the dark.   

Some of you want to know why you’re not getting what you seek?

You are seeking it more than God.  It is an idol.

When you want God as much as you want and what you seek, come back and talk to me.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.

Resist the Devil, and he Will Flee

Revelation 12:1-17 (WEB): A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth.  Another sign was seen in heaven. Behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns.  His tail drew one third of the stars of the sky, and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Her child was caught up to God, and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that there they may nourish her one thousand two hundred sixty days.

 

 There was war in the sky. Michael and his angels made war on the dragon. The dragon and his angels made war.  They didn’t prevail,neither was a place found for him any more in heaven.  The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent,he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ has come; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.  They overcame him because of the Lamb’s blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn’t love their life, even to death.  Therefore rejoice, heavens, and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you,having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”

 

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.  Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time,from the face of the serpent. The serpent spewed water out of his mouth after the woman like a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream. The earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon spewed out of his mouth. The dragon grew angry with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her offspring,who keep God’s commandments and hold Jesus’ testimony.

 

Leaders, scholars, and historians disagree about just what Revelation 12 is talking about with its symbolism.  Some say the woman is Israel, some say the woman is Mary, mother of Jesus; some say the woman is the church; some say the woman is a prophetess; and so on and so forth. Most agree the child is a reference to Christ and the dragon to Satan,but that’s about all they agree on.  The analogy of the wilderness is about as curious to many scholars as the imagery of the woman, and they still disagree as to just what is being visualized in the passage.  I’m not going to get into all that, because I think there is some room for interpretation with the prophecy and, it more than likely, refers to more than one thing.  What God is showing me tonight is a way this prophecy applies to more than just history – it can apply to each one of us -as God brings things forth within us – and the result therein.

 

The church is typified in the Bible as being female.  Actually, the general body of God’s people has always been typified as female.  There are multiple reasons why this is, but in the context of what we are looking at today, the reason for this is because the people of God proclaim eternal life,thus paralleling the woman’s role in birthing life.  Within each woman and man, born again, is the promise of life – to  multiply and bring forth something deeper and greater from all they do.  When Christ is living within you, the enemy will do everything within His power to try and stop that rule.  He will tempt, test, try, and send everything conceivable to try and snatch Christ away from your life.  He will also try to steal what God plants within you that it may be birthed forth. With a nature to steal, kill, and destroy, he comes with a nature that will disguise, look like something else, and try to get you to think he’s on your side – all in the attempt to steal your life in Christ and the product of that life away from you.

 

When we are under attack, we sometimes have to entrust our vision to God and move to a place of contemplation and silence.  We need to be still, not abandoning what God has given us, but we need to let Him hold it to protect it while He protects us.  The imagery of the woman fleeing into the wilderness fascinates me here because just as Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, so the woman goes into the desert to face demonic attack.  In the middle of nothing, where she has no one but God to protect her, she finds divine provision.  She doesn’t need to run with her child to everyone she knows, hiding and cowering all along the way, but surrendering what she has to God, she receives what she needs to be safe from the enemy.  She valued God above her own concepts of safety and self-preservation, totally trusting what God had for her to do.

 

This passage tells us we overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND the word of our testimony.  The woman in Revelation 12 had a testimony! She overcame as she experienced God’s provision in her life.  Some of us are spending so much time running from the devil that we aren’t standing long enough to receive God’s provision unto testimony!  The enemy got so mad with the woman he went and found someone else to bother.  Thus the word on today – it’s time to stop running from Satan.  Let him flee from your presence and go bother someone else.  Work on “the word of your testimony.”  Don’t let Satan have what’s not his!

 

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

 

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

 

Apostle’s Corner: When You Can’t…Let God

From: Power For Today Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 3, May/June 2014. (c) 2014 Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by Righteous Pen Publications.

In your walk with God, there will come a time when you can’t handle something you are facing.  It is either too intimidating, too troubling, too painful, too scary, too hard, or too difficult, something will come your way that is beyond your reason and powers to address.  

Sure, we love to show off our skills and powers of reasoning.  We want people to know we can take on the day and do it better than they can; better than anyone can.  Yet no matter how confident we are, able to handle general things we are, something at some point in time will come along that will be out of your control and beyond your ability to deal with it.

What do we do in situations like this? When challenges arise, the temptation is always there to throw your hands up in the air and give up, all together.  I’ve been there.  In fact, I will admit I’ve been there a lot in the past few months.  Answered prayers lead to new challenges and even more ways to bring out our own personal limitations as we go along on this journey.

As I write this, what I am realizing is this is precisely the point where our faith comes in.  The point is that we can’t do something, but God can do it.  Our limitations are a humble reminder that we can do all things through Christ, but we cannot do all things in and of ourselves.  It’s important to be competent, it’s great that we can handle things that come our way, but walking with God is about something different than that.  It’s not about what we can do on our own, but about what God can do through us when we are willing, ready, and able to allow Him to do so.

I think humility is one of the hardest aspects of faith for us, as people.  God brings us to a point where we are face-to-face with every limitation we have and makes us accept ourselves as fallible.  When we say God is our provider, healer, deliverer, that means we are acknowledging those are things we cannot do for ourselves, no matter how competent, intelligent, or “earthly good” we may be.   

We don’t want to accept faith and we do not allow God to work in our lives in a way that will transform and change us because doing so will mean we have to give up our own stubborn pride and yield to His direction.

Many of us let God in just enough to where we think it will make a difference in our lives and we can ride both sides of the fence.  In this day and age, God is mandating we pick one side or the other, and stop riding the fence.  The blessings aren’t going to be found as you sit on the fence.  His promise, His joy, His peace, everything He provides – is located at the center of His will, wherein we walk in complete faith.  No matter what we see, no matter how we may feel about what is ahead for us, no matter what we don’t see in the natural, faith is about learning to let God work within us and trusting that He knows many, many things we don’t.

It’s a blessing – and an honor – to be able to believe in God via relationship with Him that transforms us to a new level of faith and hope, in season and out.  Faith is not just about things.  It is also about being a part of God’s plan, even when you do not understand it (right now).    

Many blessings,
Apostle Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino  

Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-madness!

I saw a series of posts on another person’s note this morning that reminded me about something I had wanted to write after hearing a song on the radio called “Madness” by Muse. The note was on the doctrine “once saved, always saved” and someone who disagreed with the note’s author saw fit to behave in an unseemly manner, accusing the author of judging him.  The man who disagreed became nasty to the point of being profane in his postings, not to mention disrespectful.  It’s an all-too-familiar scene in today’s church: people are in love with their own opinions, if you disagree with them on something, that means somehow you are judging them, and that also means a nice, long debate will ensue.  Someone will stop following or attending your ministry, and it all boils down to two little words: MADNESS and CONTROL.  We think that we have the right to argue with anything we dislike and either hate it and receive the person or receive what the person has to offer and hate them.

In the song “Madness” by Muse (which was the original starting point of this blog), the question is posed: is this love or is this madness?  Yes, the guy in the song is singing about a relationship with a girl, but are our relationships with people in church – and our relationship to the church – that different?  Wanting to be seen, noticed, the center of attention, get our opinions in, behaving selfishly; hanging around with, giving our money to, the ones we perceive to be the ‘cool’ kids…is this not Junior High with Bibles?  Every one of us walks around with a memory of something that happened in connection with our faith, of something someone else did to us, or we are just encountering so much in church we are full to overflowing – and now with an overflowing cup – that makes us realize this is not love, as God told us to walk in, but it’s some kind of madness taking control.  People do not love…they are fickle.  They want what they want when they want it and when it’s gone, you – and your ministry – can go, too.

Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-madness!  How long is it going to take you to figure it out, like it took the guy in the song?

Recently I completed a book on early church history based on a course I did a couple of years ago for a Bible institute.  In the course, we cover the history of the early church through documents, both canonical and non-canonical, to gain a perspective on what the church was facing, feeling, thinking, processing, and dealing with.  One such document included is the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas (and no, the purpose of this is not to have a long-winded discourse on what is right or wrong with it – it just helped me to see and realize something).  When I was editing through, I came across the following verse, and something clicked: His disciples said to him, “Who are You, that You should say these things to us?” <Jesus said to them,> “You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for they (either) love the tree and hate its fruit or love the fruit and hate the tree.” – The Gospel of Thomas, Verse 45 Ahhhh….the essence of madness!!  The first part of the passage: We do things that don’t make sense, and then we want to know who someone is to call us on them?  Note this passage cites the disciples as coming to Jesus and wanting to know Who He is, that He should be saying such things!  And yes, this type of thing happened in the Bible, too!  When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well in John 4, the disciples all wanted to know why Jesus was talking to her! There are numerous examples where the people who followed Jesus – ate with Him, talked with Him, sat at His feet, walked with Him, heard His teaching – STILL felt they had the right to question Him and what He commanded them to do.  The essence of madness starts because we feel we have some sort of inherent right to challenge God on His guidelines and yes, His leadership, to us.  We feel that our opinion should supersede whatever God says and that means we spend a lot of time arguing and mad.  We think the Kingdom of God should be a democracy, when it’s not.  The Kingdom is a Theocracy, whereby God rules us directly, and His five-fold ministry governs us via his revelation.  You are entitled to hold any opinion you like, but if it doesn’t line up with what God teaches, you are going to find yourself in a state of madness.        

The second part of the passage: How many of us, in our state of madness, “love the tree and hate its fruit” or “love the fruit and hate the tree?” Let me break it down for everyone: We either love the vessel (whether it’s a leader or someone close to us or something) to the point of idolatry (we hate what they do, we recognize the product of their ministries/lives are not good or fruitful) or we love the fruit (the good things coming from the ministry/life) but we hate the vessel (we don’t like the truth they present, we don’t want to take care of the individual, we just want to reap whatever it is they have for ourselves).  We either want to be in control (loving the fruit but rejecting the vessel) or we want someone else to be controlling us as we turn a blind eye to reality (loving the vessel but hating the fruit).  

Uh…madness!  

When I saw the posts on another’s note, when I heard the song on the radio, when I look around at the people who claim to be Jesus’ disciples today, all I can do is shake my head and see endless, line upon line of madness surrounding me.  We are called to love one another as we love ourselves, honor and respect leadership, not reject the words God speaks through His leadership, and conduct ourselves in a way that lets the world know we are, have, be, embrace something different than it does.  We’re sitting around, telling God where it’s at, dictating what we want, demanding it of people, and acting worse than the world.  We need to stop the madness of disrespect, disregard for God, and disregard for leadership before we arise even more sin for ourselves.  

The guy in the song had a revelation – he saw the light, he figured out what he needed – the answer was he needed to love.  Not question God further, not argue with leaders, not spend another day on Facebook going from leader to leader, looking for the word du jour that can puff you up.  Love.  Love God in the way you claim that you do, for real.  Love your neighbor, which we’ve all but forgotten about.  Love shows itself; it’s not just something you say to sound good at the end of your letters and emails.  Receive truth.  Truth doesn’t always feel good, it’s not always easy to accept, and it’s not always going to make you happy, at least initially.  I think we all struggle with acceptance of some things, but there should reach a point when we shut up and stop trying to outdo and out-perform God’s precepts.  Instead of just accepting God in your life, walk with Him to the point where you stop the madness.  Your life with God doesn’t end at an altar call…you’re a part of something eternal now (as Apostle Tim Hopkins defines the Christian experience), remember?  Something that never ends and was not created to be a never-ending walk of insanity and madness.  He already came and rescued you…and the rest is up to you.  Take your revelation from this…stop being too headstrong…and stop the ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-madness! Selah.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.

Madness by Muse

(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)

I, I can’t get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)
And I, I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)

I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you mean.

Ooh oh oh

And now I need to know is this real love,
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)
And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had,
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)

And now I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you need.

Mmmm…

(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)

But now I have finally seen the end (finally seen the end)
And I’m not expecting you to care (expecting you to care)
But I have finally seen the light (finally seen the light)
I have finally realized (realized)
I need to love
I need to love

Come to me
Just in a dream.
Come on and rescue me.
Yes I know, I can be wrong,
Maybe I’m too headstrong.
Our love is
(Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma…)
Madness

Break Me…To Restoration

Break Me…To Restoration

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)

I’m “leading while bleeding” as Apostle Tabitha Vinson puts it.  I have been for some time.  Yeah, not many know the specifics.  I believe in being a “grown-up leader.” That means when something comes up, I don’t vomit it all over Facebook with status after status.  I don’t run to the phone every time I have an issue.  I keep a lot of it inside, to the point where it hurts me.  Years of telling things to the wrong people only to have it come back to haunt me have caused me to be guarded with what I divulge – almost to the point of going the other way.  I’m dealing with personal situations, ministerial issues, and physical discomforts that leave me voided and exhausted much of the time.  I have days when I don’t know what I think about any of it anymore.  I am so full of “word” that has been spoken, I can’t hear another one.  I don’t need another word telling me not to “give up,” “don’t be discouraged,” “be encouraged,” “God’s got a plan,” and the like.  I don’t care for these words because they actually make me feel more discouraged and more like giving up.  They make me feel like people do not take what I go through seriously, that I should just shut up and be the “good little soldier” all the time. And, when in a place like that, the worst part is feeling like way too many people just don’t care.

Someone always has a reason why they can’t sow a seed in the ministry.  When I say “always” I underline “always.”  There is always an excuse and always a reason.  They need to give it to their adult children. They want to buy something for themselves, whether they need it or not.  Giving to the ministry – the one that is always there for you, sits up nights, prays, intercedes, etc., is just not the priority – because as you walk away full, you forget the minister who sowed into you sits there empty, without something, because of the sacrifices they made to help you.  Someone always has a reason why they have an immediate “need” and why they need to talk or why their problem is always the priority.  I meet so many people that just randomly go from here to there and don’t have the first care about what someone else might need, let alone myself.  I’m so weary of ministry competitions, of how you can’t work with anyone anymore because everyone always needs to be in control, or somehow subtlety put down whatever it is you are doing in favor of their own.  I’m so tired of being treated as if there is something inherently wrong with me; of the ministers who “think” of me or regard me as their “spiritual daughter” when we have no such relationship, or who feel I should be beneficial to them rather than either we work together or maybe they make the sacrifice and be beneficial to this work…and just a general feeling of being used, unappreciated, and…just being generally irrelevant unless someone feels they want something.   

I am admitting this because I was looking for something else tonight.  I was looking one thing up and wound up finding a song I’d forgotten about, Jewel’s “Break Me.”  It was not a big hit, but had one of the most beautifully illustrated and powerful music videos I think I’ve ever seen.  The video perfectly represents what the song is about: restoration.  

Now before y’all start looking at me like I am crazy, yes, the song called “Break Me” is actually about restoration.  In its title, it tells us something key to restoration.  If we truly want to be a people who are able to be restored, we have to realize that when we get broken, we get jagged.  Pieces left to their own devices break and splinter more, crack and chip, and get more and more edges that cause us to hurt even further.  It gets harder and harder the more we jaded we become to restore because we reach a point where we just don’t expect people to care anymore.  We stop talking, we let ourselves bleed because we have no choice, but we cover the wound without letting it heal, and we just stop trying to be helped.  We let things go in our lives because it becomes too hard to keep pursuing them.  One by one…we become voided.

We talk a lot about restoration and wanting to be restored, but we don’t realize that in order to be restored, the isolation and alienation that results when we find ourselves in a voided place needs to first be broken before we are able to be restored.  In a broken state, we have to be broken further.  The only way that is achieved is when someone genuinely reaches out – and means it.  I think we have come to hide behind the clichés and cute little church sayings because we don’t want to reach out to others.  We don’t want to have to ‘get involved’ or maybe care about someone else more than ourselves.  We don’t want to put ourselves aside.  We think we have the major problem and that we need to receive…and in the meantime, we don’t offer people the very thing that shows them how much we love them and how much we want them to know God does, too.

But loving others is the only way that the edges and pains are “broken down” to the point where we are able to receive that restoration.  The love of God isn’t this big, mystical thing.  It doesn’t fall on our heads, out of the sky.  Love is an action.  God showed us His love through the sacrifice of Jesus.  God is love because it is Who He is; not because of anything we have done.  When we are in Christ, that is the essential nature that we are to take on for ourselves.  It is manifest in the lives of those who truly believe that being in Him merits we love because it is who we are, not because of what anyone else does or has done.  Every time we show someone we love them – take time with them, encourage them by action rather than just talking at them, giving them a hug, sitting and listening when they talk instead of talking about ourselves, sowing a seed into a ministry, telling someone you appreciate them – we are showing people that God loves them, too.  It may seem small, but that action of breaking through the pain, giving them something tangible, and showing them something deeper than mere words – helps them to break – break down – break through – to restoration.                      

I am saying all of this – and even related of myself – because I realize the longer we don’t reach out, the longer we don’t put ourselves aside and help someone else (and when I say “help” I don’t mean throw around more church phrases), the more difficult it becomes for someone to receive revelation.  It’s easy to assume nobody cares, everyone is uninterested or self-centered, and to retreat inward rather than reach out.  If we say we want people saved, healed, delivered, and restored, we have to get involved.  We have to show them somebody cares about them.  Restoration doesn’t just happen because we wiggle our noses or because we say “I speak restoration NOW!” in a big, loud, booming preacher voice.  Love requires us giving something of ourselves so someone else can live and can run farther, faster, and more powerfully in this life.  We have to break…through love…unto restoration.

If you can’t put yourself aside to help someone else break through to their restoration, then you aren’t really a follower of Christ, born of God and living in Him.  If that’s the case, then it’s time to take the word “Christian” off your identity, the formal title off your page, the empty words from your mouth…and let yourself begin again with Him, being broken and then restored to a place where you can.  It’s not hard…just vitally important so we can reach the lost and hurting world with the Gospel.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.       

“Break Me,” Jewel

I will meet you
In some place
Where the light lends itself
To soft repose
I will let you undress me
But I warn you
I have thorns
Like any rose

And you could hurt me
With your bare hands
You could hurt me
With with the sharp end
Of what you say
But I’m lost to you now
And there’s no
Amount of reason
That could save me

So break me
Take me
Just let me
Feel your arms again
Break me
I’ll let you make me
Just let me
Feel your love again

Feels like being underwater
Now that I’ve let go
And lost control
Water kisses fill my mouth
Water fills my soul

So break me
Take me
Just let me
Feel your arms again
Break me
Make me
Just let me
Feel your love again

Kiss me once
Well, maybe twice
Oh, it never felt so nice
So break me
Take me
Let me
Feel your arms again
Break me
Make me
Just let me
Feel your arms again
Just let me
Feel your love again

Release

I recently got a word about letting go of different things from my past.  Those of you who know me know when people start talking like that, I start rolling my eyes, as a general rule.  As is cliche in church, I find that to be a vague and nonspecific word that is not particularly helpful.  WHAT of your past do you need to let go of? What exactly is it that is the problem?  Telling someone that is like saying “You need to go to Europe.” WHERE in Europe? And WHY do I need to go to Europe? And WHAT am I going to do while in Europe? You’re going to get lost really quickly by following that advice.  This word I received, however, was spoken by someone I know and dearly trust, and knew that if he was telling me that, there had to be something to it. I have never been one to deny that every one of us, myself included, can have issues that hold us back.  When I say “hold us back,” I don’t mean they are causing us some sort of emotional upheval or making us afraid or some of that jargon we often hear about potential.  I mean that things in our lives can cause us to hold on long after other people have let it go and moved on.  We want to insist we were right about something, we want validation for what happened to us or how we felt about it – and we start seeking that out from other people.  We tell our story, maybe too much, to too many people.  We wait for that moment when we will feel right, or what happened to us will feel different.    

Eventually I would like to think that we reach a point where we realize no matter how much we recount our stories or tell other people what happened to us – and no matter how much validation we receive from them – it won’t make what happened to us feel different than it does.  Whatever came against us, hurt us, came after us, or caused us whatever it caused us is what it was.  We felt the way we felt about it – whether that was offended, hurt, sad, angry, grievesome, or pain.  Some things that happen in life are just awful and they are just what they are – and nothing anyone says to us about what happened can make it feel, seem, or be different than it was.  Accepting this is the first step to letting go of some of these issues, but it is certainly not the end.  We can still be searching for something in that void to change it or somehow restore who we feel like we were before it happened.  We need to reach a point where we don’t feel like less of who we are because of what someone else did.

In 2010, I was “released” from the ministry I had been under for three years prior.  I knew it was coming, I knew time was up – six months earlier, in fact – but I didn’t leave when I should have.  I didn’t leave because I loved my leader and was comfortable where I was.  Yeah, I am going to use that word – comfortable. I was able to absorb into her work and not focus on my own, as the work God called me to often has left me frustrated over time.  It would have been enough for me to walk away released on good terms, but rather than do that, my former leader concocted a series of lies and accusations against me.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she went public with much of it.  To say I was hurt was an understatement.  I had invested many years into her work and ministry and trusted her in many areas of my life.  She wasn’t just my leader, in some ways, she was also considered a friend.  She was also, in the truest sense of the term, a “spiritual mom” to me, one who helped me develop my apostolic call, understand it, and set me where I needed to go so I can be where I am and am going today.

I knew it was time, I just didn’t know the way it was going to happen was going to be so offensive.  But I suppose in a certain way, it had to happen the way that it did.  I have always believed that God didn’t separate me from her, he separated her from me.  Where I needed to go, she was not equipped to come.  It wasn’t anything against either of us except that our season was simply over.  Had she not done what she did, I probably would have never left and launched out.  Even in that difficult situation of release, I can see how God worked it out for my good, especially looking at where I am now.  Even though I haven’t had contact with her in some time, I know from the grapevine that ministry did not turn out for her the way she’d hoped, nor planned.  Of the two of us, my ministry has been more effective in reaching others.  It might have been hard, and unfair…but it was the way it had to be.

I would have never suspected any issue I had with her all those years ago to remain an issue that I was carrying.  I believe in acceptance – I can’t change what happened.  It was what it was.  I don’t talk about the situation much anymore, I have reached a point where I don’t hold any animosity.  I, as a leader, cannot condone what she did, but I am not embittered by it anymore.  But embittered or not, there are still times when thinking about it, remembering it, and seeing the way I am sometimes treated now, it still hurts because it was still a wrong.  

By accident today, while looking for something else, I stumbled upon a public statement she made about me in 2010 when she “released” me.  Behind the scenes, I was trying to defend my integrity and the accusations she was making against me.  I was worried that the other statements – the ones I knew about – were going to affect how mutual people felt about me and my ministry as I was now very much on my own.  Interestingly enough, however, this was a statement I hadn’t seen:                  

“During the last 3 years, Ap. Dr. Lee (Ann) Marino was placed as Apostle in Office at (ministry name removed) and trust with the administration of (ministry name removed) and other (name removed) networks. We have been very grateful of the experience that the Lord allow us to walk while Ap. Dr. LAM was with us. During that time she was mentored and covered by us, however she is not under our covering any more. Her ministry finally started moving towards the direction that God called her to minister. We are very proud of her growing process while she was with (ministry name removed) as well all what we have deposit in her as an apostle and in her ministry. May God blessed you Lee Ann.”

Why in the world did I find that today, over four years later?  Because God wants me to put her – and any hurt I might have had – to rest, once and for all.  Despite all the thoughts I might have had, my concerns for public image, even the other statements she released that were less than truthful – the truth WAS there.  Every accusation WAS made-up.  She knew who I was, and in the process, she didn’t uncover me – she uncovered herself.  She released me because I needed to be released, because it was time.  God wants me to know that He has me in His hand, and any avenging that comes against me or this ministry – He will take care of it.

In many ways, I am at another pivotal junction in ministry, even though it doesn’t have to do with a leader this time.  I am confronted with situations that are leaving me uncomfortable, leaving me at turning points, at junctures where choices need to be made and it’s up to me to decide what to do.  There are people talking about me, once again, misrepresenting the ministry and the leadership therein.  Just like back then, God is moving very fast and many changes are coming – some are already here – and other recent changes are already starting to turn.  In my extreme discomfort, I’ve called out to God, more than once, asking Him for the very thing I was given all those years earlier – release.  I know that to move forward, I have to be released from some things, some situations, some past ideals and concepts, and yes, some people.  Sometimes we just need to be released from people, places, things, and concepts – and sometimes we need to release ourselves.  In the release from where we do not need to be, we unhinge ourselves to be exactly where God needs us.  We need to not just let go of our past, we need to release ourselves from it.  Leave it as what it was.  Whatever hurt, it hurt.  God’s got us, and we got Him.  The rest He can take care of.  

And for this revelation, I am truly grateful.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved. 

Power For Today Magazine, March/April 2014

Power For Today Magazine, March/April 2014

By Righteous Pen Publications in Power For Today Magazine

28 pages, published 3/24/2014

Power For Today Magazine is published bi-monthly and is a publication of Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries. March/April 2014: Holiness. Interview: Apostle Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino, Ph.D., D.D., founder of Female Apologetics. Guest articles: Convenience Store Christians and The End Of Propriety. Authors: Apostle Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino, Apostle Tim R. Hopkins, Prophetess Nina B. Marino.

Steppin’ Out!

On the 1996 “God is in the House” album by Hillsong Australia, the song “Steppin’ Out” was one of the first feature tracks we sang in church after I received Christ in 1999.  I liked the song, I liked the beat, I liked the message.  I guess I really didn’t understand what it meant until God first told me to “move,” back in 2007.  Before that time, my momentums tended to be on one level.  I might have changed projects or who I was working with, but I didn’t go beyond a certain level.  When God had me board a plane January 22, 2007 with nothing but two suitcases and a tracphone, “Steppin’ Out” suddenly had a new meaning. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing, but I know I had to go.

Seven months after that move – almost exactly to the day, God gave me a new word “You’re going to Raleigh!” Since I hated where I was living in Kentucky, I couldn’t have been more delighted. I wanted to leave then and there and go to Raleigh,  It was almost, once again, two years to the exact day that I received word I was going to Raleigh.  Picking up and leaving had its consequences and challenges this time, but God always made the way.  Now in the almost five years since I moved to this area, God is doing a whole new thing and inspiring a whole new level of “steppin’ out.”  In my case, it doesn’t mean leaving the area this time, but does mean some others are relocating.  And, somewhere in here, we are all getting very “shook up” and as God’s floodgates of heaven keep opening up…down comes a refreshment and momentum we’ve all needed.

2013 was a notoriously difficult and, quite honestly, awful year for me (as it was for many that I know). I had no idea what God was doing or what was going to wind up happening.  At one point, I seriously considered walking away from ministry because I couldn’t handle anymore disaster.  It seemed like everything I tried to do turned into something other than what I intended it and being left with the feeling of isolation, abandonment, and betrayal just became too much.  The last event ended as someone threatened to sue me and the other people who had caused the problem went on their merry way, as if nothing had happened.  Yes, I’ve dealt with all these things in years past (save the last one), but there was just something about some of the things that happened last year.  I understand these things happen when we are in ministry, and before someone says “expect betrayals and trials” in that flip, little way so many of us do, knowing stuff is coming doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.  It doesn’t make me feel better to see people behave as they do, as Biblically prophetic as it may be.  I reached a point where, properly assessing all the situations, I told God that I had no way to make anything more happen than was happening at that point. I could maintain, as I had done for years, but there wasn’t anything else I could do.  I was out of money, I was out of resources, I was lacking the manpower and support to move any further than I already had.  So, I did what I always tell people to do – I let go, and I waited.  

One of the major things I considered was, once again, relocation.  I thought maybe my time in this area was up and maybe it was time to move on.  I looked at a couple of options to move on, but there was only one that seemed feasible, and it didn’t feel right.  I felt like my act of “steppin’ out” was to just stay still for awhile.  I figured out enough to know I wasn’t supposed to relocate, but not enough to know what I was supposed to do in staying here.  To be honest, it was very hard.  When I feel like something has dried up, I tend to want to either do something about that or move on.  Instead, in staying still, I was able to get a few books published, work on some others, and wound up hosting my own television show.  One by one, all the things I let go of in 2013 for whatever reason – lack of money, tired of people, lack of resources – God brought back to mind.  Now, almost everything has come back and everything is moving forward.  By staying still, I could hear God so I could step out.  Now the steps seem bigger and more productive – and I am “steppin’ out” in my faith in a different way even though I didn’t have to relocate.   

Recent events have inspired me all the more to see the importance in “steppin’ out.” As of around this time tomorrow, someone will have relocated to come here and work with the ministry in the pursuits that are all coming forth.  That kind of faith just amazes me, even now, even though I’ve made that kind of move before, as well.  God said go, and he is going.  God has provided for the entire way, for the whole journey, from start to finish.  It makes me wonder about God’s true movement in a bigger sense.  So often we are waiting for God to do things.  I don’t question that sometimes that is what He is telling us to do, but a lot of the time, we just aren’t willing to take the steps He requires of us because they will ask more of us than we are comfortable to give.  The modern way of life is about “comfort” and “convenience,” and in this trend, we’ve made God our ultimate Source for comfort and convenience, thus it doesn’t make sense to many people that God might ask us to be uncomfortable.  How do we know the difference? Waiting costs something from us, just as stepping out also costs.  If you’re just “waiting on God” without that costing anything from you, you’re just standing still in disobedience, out of convenience.  I have made the ultimate sacrifice to be here, doing what God has asked of me.  At points, I haven’t even respected myself for what I have had to do and the sacrifices I have had to make to be here.  It hasn’t been easy for me, just like getting on the plane in 2007 with nothing, not knowing how God was going to move or do anything was going to be.  Now, it’s still not easy.  I have to trust God every month to make sure the television producers and airtime are paid, that this ministry will continue to run, even at times that I will have transportation or a place to live.  Some of those things have come wrought with conflict and personal sacrifices.  But watching God move, now that’s awesome.  

Today we want big, grand signs that “God is God.” People want to see diamonds appear when you preach or gold dust scattered across a church.  But to me, these don’t impress me as much as watching God move in His people as we stand in obedience to Him.  As I see needs get met when people stand on faith, it just makes me fall in love with Jesus all over again.  Whether we physically step out or we are in places where we have to wait, we are “steppin’ out” in faith.  It is one of the reasons why we must stop judging other people based on what we feel they have or do not have.  You do not know the price, sacrifice, issue, or request God has made of someone and you have no right to try and take away what God has given them, nor what God is doing within them.  If you think God has for you what they have, then you need to start “steppin’ out” in obedience yourself, and see what it’s like.  I am so inspired as I watch people around me all “steppin’ out” for the Kingdom on the grounds of radical, outrageous faith that doesn’t make sense to this natural world.  In order for us to stand, we will see more and more of that.  We live in a time where we cannot be passively waiting around for God to do for us what He already told us to do for ourselves.  We need to stop seeking comfort and start seeking to do the will of God, no matter how uncomfortable we may be in the pursuit.  Whether you are commanded now to move or stand still, remember the words of the song “steppin’ out:” WE WALK BY FAITH.

People, it’s time – the time so many of us have been waiting for.  Don’t get left out because you want to be comfortable.  Move or stay still…but step out in faith.

(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.           

(verse 1)
We’re a generation saved by grace
And set apart to change this land
We’re standing strong and pressing on
We know in Jesus we can

(chorus 1)
The church of God is growing everyday
We’re taking ground
And we are steppin’ out
(Change our generation)
We’re steppin’ out
(Reachin’ every nation)
With the favour of God on us day by day
We’re movin’ on in every way
We’re steppin’ out
We’re steppin’ out

(verse 2)
We’re the chosen few who speak His Word
And manifest it in our lives
We’re not moved by what the world says
God Jesus on our side

(chorus 2)
We’re not dismayed by
what we see with our eyes
We walk by faith
And we are steppin’ out
(Change our generation)
We’re steppin’ out
(Reachin’ every nation)
With the favour of God on us day by day
We’re movin’ on in every way
We’re steppin’ out
We’re steppin’ out

With the favour of God on us day by day
We’re movin’ on in every way
We’re steppin’ out
We’re steppin’ out

(Change our generation)
We’re steppin’ out
(Reachin’ every nation)
We’re steppin’ out!