Activities/Teachings

Putting the verb in seeking Him

SLANDER

Slander steals and kills! God hates slander (Proverbs 6:16, 19). It is evil. That’s why Paul lists it as a behavior of those who hate God (Romans 1:30) and why James calls it demonic behavior (James 3:15-16). Slander occurs whenever someone says something untrue about someone else that results, intentionally or unintentionally, in damaging that someone else’s reputation. And when it occurs, it becomes a divisive, discouraging, and confusing weight that often affects numerous people – sometimes many, many people. Because of its poisonous power, IT IS ONE OF THE ADVERSARY’S CHIEF STRATEGIES TO DIVIDE relationships and deter and derail the mission of the church. We must be on our guard against this closely clinging sin and frequently lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). Slander applies to siblings too. 

The Subtlety of Slander

Sometimes, saying something untrue and damaging about someone is bold and blunt. But the slander is often insidiously subtle, especially since we have heard it in almost every context and grown accustomed to it all our lives. This means we must heighten our sensitivity to it and lower our tolerance to it. Slander can wear a hundred masks. I’ll mention a few common ones. Sometimes we pass along slanderous information that seems almost like harmless hearsay. Yet, the effect it has on our listeners is to leave them with an unfairly negative perception of another. Sometimes we embellish with information or tone a negative report about someone in order to enhance our listener’s perception of ourselves. Sometimes we have a very real concern about someone, but we share it with someone who cannot benefit from it or help with the concern. We do this because we want our listeners to think worse of a particular person. Or suppose we share a concern with an appropriate person. In that case, we can sometimes indulge our speculations or presumptions, mixing them almost imperceptibly with facts for our listeners, distorting the concern to sway an outcome in the desired direction. The net effect of all forms of slander is to unjustly devalue another person’s reputation. 

Slander Is Stealing

This devaluing is at the heart of what makes slander evil. The Bible tells us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). In this context, a good name represents a person’s character, which is the most valuable thing about their identity. A good name is who we are in the minds of others. And since relationships trade in the currency of trust, a reputation is a very precious asset. So whenever we handle a person’s name – who they are in the minds of others – we are stewarding a treasure that belongs to them. If we unjustly damage a person’s reputation, we are stealing their good name and vandalizing their character. This causes real, sometimes long-lasting damage to people because restoring a devalued name is difficult. Who knows what love, joy, counsel, comfort, and opportunities we take from people if we care for their name carelessly? God knows. And He hates it. God hates when we speak evil of his name (Exodus 20:7) and when we speak evil of others (Titus 3:2). He will hold us accountable for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36). This is a great incentive for us to “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

Fight Slander First in Yourself

The foremost slanderer we must silence is the one inside us. Full of malignant pride, our sinful natures are not interested in truth but in self-glory. So they seek to manipulate others through slander (or flattery) for our own selfish benefit. Sin (and therefore our demonic harassers) seizes on a concern for or an offense we’ve received from another and seeks to distort it into thinking evil of that person. Thinking evil of another is assigning imagined or exaggerated negative qualities to them that doesn’t exist. Often this begins as private fantasies where we nurture our concerns or offense by imagining ourselves justified in our righteousness and others condemned in their evil. But in truth, all we’re doing is passing our own evil thoughts on to imaginations disguised as other people. That’s our sinful nature’s slanderer talking. We are fools to listen to it. And when our slander spills out from ourselves to others – and it will if we don’t catch it soon enough – it is both selfishly indulgent and cowardly. Slander is indulgent because we often seek the self-flattery buzz of our listener approving and admiring us more than the one we are slandering. We are robbing another’s reputation to get the drug of self-flattery. Slander is cowardly because it’s a way of nurturing a concern or an offense and gaining sympathizers without doing the courageous work of bringing it directly to the source of our concern or offense. Our rationalizations for this can be countless, but essentially we don’t have the guts to deal with it head-on. This means our character is in serious question since we are willing to vandalize another’s character to gain allies.

We must grow ruthless in ignoring and silencing our slandering sinful natures. 

By Jon Bloom 

BLACK & WHITE – PART ONE

I want to share a perspective with you. People often ask me what my highlight of being a part of Azusa Now in LA was. My answer is easy. It was when they showed the video of all the awful things people have done to other humans (school shootings, Holocaust, 9/11, American Indians, etc.) and we began to declare louder and louder, “Father, forgive them! Father, forgive them!” I saw an older African American couple a few rows in front of me, and all I could say was, “I am sorry. I am so so sorry.” They received those healing words with gratitude. It still creates tears in my eyes. It was a highlight for me because the Father was highlighting something to me. I believe God was releasing an anointing to make things right with those who have been hurt.

Fast forward to our first hotel stay when we began our 2-month journey on the road. Every single channel the kids wanted to watch had to do with slavery. As we feasted on this ‘entertainment’ my stomach became sick. I could feel the control, the madness, the loss, the betrayal, the paralyzing fear, the lack of safety, the lack of belonging, the condemnation, and the anger. Humans were treated like animals, only worth their labor and performance, and their hearts were ripped out over and over. Tears poured down my cheeks as I told the kids to turn off the TV. I believe God was awakening this part of our history in me. God has been speaking to me a lot about the spirit of control. We are not wired to be controlled by anyone or anything; rather, we were created to operate out of our free will. It is how He designed us. When we are controlled, especially when it is ongoing, we respond by partnering with a spirit of rejection or a spirit of rebellion. Here we are with the great divide between whites and blacks being highlighted… once again. Could it be that the Lord is allowing pressure so that the heart splinter could be removed once and for all? Could it be that all those years of being controlled by the color of their skin have produced a generational line of rebellion or rejection? Could it be that here we are 100 some years later with a mess we didn’t create but still reaping the fruit of? Could it be that there are strongholds in the atmosphere who enjoy watching humans quarrel based on their skin color? Could it be that while we all have choices, there is a lot more going on in the spiritual realm than we are giving credit to? Could it be that the issue isn’t the color of our skin but more so the doors that have been opened for the enemy to continue to influence? Could it be that the answer isn’t just outward ‘unity’ but more so breaking agreements with the spirit of control, rebellion, and rejection? Could it be that those acting out the rebellion or rejection are actually crying out to be free from the spirit of control that has been in operation in their family line for so long? Could it be that we, white Americans, haven’t yet cleaned up our mess in the spiritual realm our ancestors have made? Could it be that the involvement of police officers is a prophetic statement of the authority we have been given and need to be using, not over humans, but the spiritual realm? 

Could we be a generation that changes the world of so many lives that matter by releasing freedom, acceptance, and belonging over them? I think so!

Be sure to check out PART TWO which will give you steps to take in your own home.

BLACK & WHITE – PART TWO

Please read PART ONE first.

You Have Work To Do!

If you have a white lineage, I encourage you to go before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they participated in the dehumanizing, abuse, and control of black people in the name of slavery (through purchase or attitude). I encourage you to ask for forgiveness for any way your family line has partnered with the attitude and belief of supremacy and hierarchy based on race. 

Gather your children and talk about the issue of race. Talk about how it would feel to be excluded your whole life simply because of your hair color. We owe them their history, even if it isn’t always pretty. We owe them the truth so that they can be empowered to change their world. Have them write out an “I am sorry” card and offer it to Jesus. Have them write out declarations and speak into the atmosphere that we are all equally made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). 

If you have a black lineage, I encourage you to get before the Lord today and ask for forgiveness on behalf of your family line, heritage, and ancestors for any way they have come under the spirit of control and partnered with rebellion or rejection (victim spirit) in defense. I encourage you to spend some intentional time today forgiving those who have caused you and your family line harm, hardship, and cruelty. This will not be won naturally because we are reaping the fruit of the strongholds created generations ago. Each person must do their own part to clean up the mess we were handed, put their stake in the ground, and declare we will not tolerate this any longer. 

WORTHY IS THE LAMB

Worthy is the lamb is more than a good worship song – it is the position of our hearts. The elders and angels bow down and worship WORTHY IS THE LAMB over and over and over for all eternity. The Lord owes us nothing. Not comfort, morning coffee, electricity, toys, expensive vehicles, nice homes, or a paycheck. He gives these things because He is a good Father, but He owes us NOTHING and deserves it all. In this hour, it is so important to teach our children that He is worthy – all the time – of it all! 

Wor·thy – adjective – having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way. Noun – a person notable or important in a particular sphere. 

Have the kids glue cotton balls around a drawn or printed lamb and talk about the countless things He is worthy of.

JOIN ME IN PRAYER

I am encouraging every parent to STAND IN THE GAP for the voiceless children in our nation who are being used and abused and read out loud Psalms 10. God is not sleeping. His eyes do not close. It is time to take the mask off our mouths and declare that the scales will be tipped. I am on my face weeping on their behalf. Cry out on behalf of the children. Be their voice. Stand in the gap on their behalf. This is God’s battle. We will do our part on our knees. Children, we are battling for you. Heaven, send the angels. God is the God who judges all things.

EASTER STORY

I was asked to put on an Easter event at our church long before I had my own children. We wrote out a little booklet telling the Easter story and had the kids find a colored egg that went with the page of the story. They had to open the egg and see how the object inside correlated with the story. We hosted over 1,000 families that day, which was a huge hit. I have since hosted many Easter parties telling children of the GOOD NEWS.

May your family enjoy this interactive story of our RISEN KING! Gather the following items, put them in a designated colored egg, and hide them around the house (I have added some additional suggestions that you may have on hand). The child has to find that colored egg, bring it to you to read the Scripture relating to that part of the Easter story.

EASTER STORY PIECES:

Light green – Palm branch (small leaf, pine tree branch).

Dark Pink – Communion cup (insert note inside that says ‘see table’ and put grape juice on the table). 

Dark orange – Nickel.

Light Blue – Crown (twig, rose thorn).

Light purple – Dice.

Dark blue – Nail. 

Light yellow – something black (felt, construction paper, or drawing with a black marker). 

Dark green – Gauze (cotton ball, cloth). 

Light Orange – Stone (rock). 

Dark Yellow – Empty.

Light pink – Keys (car/house key).

Dark purple – Cross.

TELL THEM!

Your child is hungry to learn and hear your personal stories. Your journey will shape them significantly, and your story’s chapters will be valuable to them. Share with them your experiences as it relates to their world. Tell them about a time you dealt with or struggled with the same thing they are walking through. Share with them what you have learned through your own mistakes. Tell them about your God encounters and what Jesus has said to you. You are not their royal emperor dictating from a throne. You are their parent – empowering, equipping, and leading them face-to-face.

HEARTWORK

Parents – you have homework! Love is a VERB. Grab some paper and begin to write notes to your child. So tuck them in their underwear drawer, by their toothbrush, in their favorite book. Let them find your nuggets of love!!!! You can do it for your children or have them do it for each other.

“NEW” TOYS

Purchase 66-quart bins and fill them with items from their rooms. Put the bin in the basement and bring out a new bin each week. Refill the empty bin and keep rotating a ‘new’ bin each week. You can also get smaller bins and fill them with items like Playdough, coloring books, games, bouncy balls, bubbles, etc., and pull them out when you want them to play. This approach will minimize the constant clutter and make it feel like Christmas with the ‘new’ toys each week. Throw in a movie and some reading books to be re-discovered too.