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They Want to be Worshipped

II Timothy 3:1-3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, (NKJV)

The words I highlighted in this scripture are some of the very reasons why pure ministry hardly ever takes place in this country. The spirit of Hollywood has infected the modern day church and it is playing out in ways that appear to make a total mockery of anyone who professes to follow Jesus Christ.

So what am I talking about specifically? Well, we now have four reality shows that involve “Christians.” One involves a popular gospel duo and another new show now involves a family of gospel artists. I know that many folks think this is a good thing for Christianity and see this as a positive. But aren’t those of us who follow Christ supposed to be about advancing the Kingdom? Well, sadly neither of these shows reflects that in any kind of way. The gospel duo’s show seems to only reflect materialism, drama and lives that are ultimately self-centered. The other gospel family show is very comparable. Why do we need to see “celebrity gospel artists” parade around in expensive designer clothes just like the “A-listers” in the world? Their “acts of service” appear to be limited to that of showing up and profiling at charity events, and while they might donate some money; do we really believe that this is the work of pure ministry? All they do is show up to gospel music events and perform. What one would see on these shows is only a step or two above the FOOLISHNESS present on such shows as “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Love and Hip Hop,” and “Braxton Family Values.” So many gospel artists and ministries nowadays appear to clamor for attention and notoriety, while they are supposed to be sharing the good news. The spirit of Hollywood is seducing the body of Christ and taking people’s eyes off of the Father.

The other two reality shows don’t involve gospel artists, but supposedly take place in the “Christian community.” One show is about preachers’ daughters and their struggle to stay pure and holy. Sadly, this is nothing but another means for nonbelievers to continue mocking and scoffing at the faith. There is already a belief in the world that says that preacher’s kids are rebellious and wilder than other kids. Come on folks! We’re supposed to be set apart! What was the motive for these pastors to actually air their family business on TV? I think we all know the answer. $$Money$$. The other show is called “The Sisterhood” and it is about preacher’s wives. As I expected, it amounts to nothing more than a slightly cleaner version of “Basketball Wives.” The women on this show don’t model the character of the Proverbs 31 woman by any stretch of the imagination. Trust me, these ladies care more about getting their hair and nails done than ministering to the lost and broken.

I shutter at the possibility of future Christian reality shows that will continue to make a mockery of what is supposed to represent the TRUTH. So in mentioning these shows along with some other examples I will give, it all boils down to this one truth: THEY WANT TO BE WORSHIPPED.

That may sound a bit extreme to some of you, but I believe that is the truth that resides in the recesses of the hearts of many in the body of Christ. People need to be validated and need to be reassured of who they are because too many of us are not operating as true heirs of Christ. Our identity isn’t grounded enough in Him, which is why so many in the worship arts and ministry seem to seek notoriety. There is so much competition in the modern day church culture, it is no wonder that ministries don’t work together. Have you ever noticed how it seems like most of the major ministers always have their face on the front cover of most or all of the books they’ve written? Why is that? I believe it is because they unknowingly or even unconsciously become too big in their own eyes. There is just too much self-importance.

I also believe that it is becoming rare to experience pure ministry that would cause one to fall to the floor in true repentance. Where are the psalmists who can manifest anointing that brings visitations from the Lord? Where is the poet whom can speak words that tear into the core of your heart and bring that conviction that leads to change? Where are the ministers who actually can lay hands on someone and they be healed or delivered? These types of experiences won’t take place when there are impure motives behind the “ministry.” These manifestations will never occur when vessels are affirmed by being the center of attention. They will only occur when we desire that He and He alone is worshipped, not us. Becoming invisible and decreasing that He may increase is the only way we will see His glory.

Father I pray right now that You would purge the spirit of Hollywood that might be residing in the hidden areas of our hearts. Create is us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. May the blood of Jesus kill any desires within us to be worshipped and admired. May we learn to embrace humility and operate with pure motives. May we desire that You alone be glorified and that Your Kingdom be manifested in the earth. Help us to keep our hearts and minds on things that are eternal and not temporal. Prepare us for these last days so we are not distracted by the temptations of the world. May we be set apart for Your glory. Amen.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2013

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Spirituality

 

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Embracing the True Self

I remember getting standing ovations in church as a young child on Easter Sundays because I would recite these speeches that were probably 3-4 times longer than the ones the other kids did. I remember winning writing contests year after year in my school and progressing very fast when I started taking piano lessons as a nine year old. A little boy with a colorful, vivid imagination who saw the world through his own set of unique, candy-coated glasses. But it wasn’t long before this artistic, creative side of me began to slowly fade into a hidden place…

I wanted to be like the other boys around me because early childhood experiences told me that I was too “different.” The enemy of my soul began to taunt me from an early age through the words and actions of others against me. I began to believe the LIE that I was a “sissy” and just for some reason didn’t quite have that “it” quality that the other little boys seemed to possess. I played video games, played with Legos and rode by BMX bike, but something was still “wrong.” Something was “off,” or so I made to believe. The pain of not being accepted by my peers was too much to bear so I had to do something about it! And so this began the formulation of my false self. This is really no different than what probably most other people experience, we just have different scripts. Our false selves are a defense mechanism to the lies we believe and the sins that are committed against us.

 

If I could go back in time, I would never have exchanged piano lessons for soccer, basketball and track and field. I would have at least stuck with the piano and even singing, but I had to play sports because that was what all of the normal boys did. I wasn’t blessed with the natural strength and physique of the other boys, but I could run fast! This became my way of being their “equal.” They couldn’t always make fun of me anymore because I was outshining them. I would get a rush whenever I would supposedly prove my “boyhood.” I would get the same rush when I would receive praise from my family for my doing well with academics, and while getting an education is obviously important, in my case it was more about ego and performance. The deep wounding that I had received in my childhood told me that achievement was synonymous with acceptance. Everything in life then became a competition to me and the enemy of my soul now had free reign to wreak havoc in my psyche.

James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (NKJV)

Fast forward into my teen years, the false self continued to play out in various forms. I had a very FRAGILE ego and was overly-driven. If I didn’t accomplish something or if someone out performed me in some way, my heart perceived this as rejection. I know many of you probably have some idea of what this is like. And so my artistic side would show up in different ways once in a great blue moon, but it still remained suppressed because of my need for acceptance and attention. My idolatry of sports had already become a major stronghold (with the help of ESPN and media hype), but I’m grateful that I grew up in a home with music ministers as parents. I still loved music, but even that became corrupted. My peers were listening to stuff like gangster rap that was littered with violence, sex and drugs, and so I had to follow suit so I could be more socially acceptable. At this time I was supposedly becoming “blacker” because I had been told so many times since I was a little boy that I acted “white.” So I quickly became influenced through BET (Black Entertainment TV), movies and what was considered to be “black culture.” This was just more of the false self being magnified. Fortunately, my mother kind of made me sing in the youth choir at church, so I didn’t completely lose my musical ability. Are you now beginning to see the COST of not embracing the true self?

Meanwhile, my true self was locked away in a prison of self-hatred. My false self ruled with an iron clad and only got worse during high school as I became a state finalist in track and field, three out of four years. Pride and ego took center stage, but soon life would start to play out against my hopes and dreams. The very things that fueled the false self seemed to have been taken almost overnight. I guess God had had enough… But I began to display many other destructive qualities as I entered college. My sense of self worth plummeted to all time lows, and I became the perfect punching bag for the enemy of my soul. The slightest word said in the wrong way could throw me into an emotional tailspin. College life was MISERABLE, for the most part. My false self eventually steered my life down a dark path and it would take years to begin repairing the damage. It’s sad how the enemy can derail us with his lies. Some never leave the path of destruction that was set up by the false self, and I thought I never would.

But God…

As I started my true journey with the Lord some years ago, the true self began to slowly emerge. His Word began to bathe me, methodically washing away the lies my heart had internalized over the years. Through the love of others, God began His surgery on me. He started to remove the cancer of self hatred and other vices that made me believe that even He hated me for all of those years. My ears began to hear His voice for the very first time as He whispered. His love began to peel away the layers to reveal the man that He imagined before time even existed. My artistic side began to bloom brightly like a field of sunflowers. My true self can begin to kill ego and reject performance, and can learn to forgive those who inflicted the deep wounds I suffered in my childhood. My true self can learn to not be so easily offended. I can choose to walk in the light, just like the brightness that hits after exiting a railroad tunnel.

I don’t like the phrase “work in progress” because I believe it gets misused. However, I will say that my true self is still emerging as I learn to get out of my own way. I’m embracing my God-given uniqueness. My true self has a marvelous destiny that awaits him. My true self is no longer afraid to take risks. Courage is being poured over my spirit man as I am beginning to recognize what it means to truly live. My true self is learning to bow down to the reality that the Heavenly Father knows me infinitely more than I know myself. I have imperfections and have to bear my cross just like the savior did. I have to be willing to embrace the narrow path the lord has laid out for me in order to find the life that I was always mean to live while on this earth. Each day that we awake, we must make the decision to keep the false self locked away until he is finally no more… My true self shall prevail. And so can yours, if you will allow it.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(NKJV)

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2013

 

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Don’t Let Your Ambitions Lead You Astray

Months ago, I started occasionally hearing the Lord say to me, “Don’t let your ambitions lead you astray.” James 3:16 states, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (NKJV) I have come to better understand this scripture much more fully and the Lord has illuminated it to me through a couple of specific examples.

I believe that ambition with the wrong motives is simply another form of idolatry. The flesh, the frailty of the human soul and demonic influences create the desire to be exalted or affirmed in a not-so-healthy way. This is defined as the pride of life. We are the creation and He is the creator. He made us for His good pleasure and the only way we will ever find peace is to allow the Lord to fill the void in our hearts. He is the only one that can fill the void because He created it just that way. Our affirmation should come solely from being called His child. The fact that He has a specific calling for each of us should be enough for us to dedicate our all to Him and not be so high-minded, especially with our ambitions. His purposes should always override ours, and when they don’t there is always the potential for catastrophic consequences.

In the movie “300,” there is a deformed, hunchbacked character named Ephialtes that is desperate to join King Leonidas and the rest of the Spartan warriors in their conquest to defend their nation against the Persian forces. Uninvited, he follows the army and eventually makes his desire known to King Leonidas. However, the outcast has a moment of truth when it’s pointed out to him that his severe handicap would be a hindrance to the rest of the soldiers because of the way that they shield each other from the slings and arrows of enemy fire. However, King Leonidas is gracious enough to offer him some alternative duties in lieu of combat that were in fact honorable. But of course, this wasn’t enough. Ephialtes gets highly offended and rejects the offer because fighting with the other soldiers was the only way that his desire would be satisfied. While his intentions might have been good, it wasn’t a part of the divine path that was laid out for him. God created him for a different purpose. He couldn’t handle what he believed was rejection. Ultimately, his desires and ambitions to be a soldier were so great that he betrayed his own nation! His lust for what he believed would affirm him caused him to be lured in by the leader of the enemy Persian forces who accepted him as a soldier in exchange for information that would aid them in defeating the Spartans. He traded in good for evil to satisfy his own ambitions.

Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (NKJV) I have had to ask myself whether or not that scripture is a cliché or a reality that I will choose to trust despite what circumstances try to tell me. I wonder how many of us are lusting after the callings of others or things that we think will affirm us because we don’t understand why God created us. Or could it be that circumstance, our flesh and demonic influences have perverted our vision and God’s plan for our life appears undesirable, especially when we perceive other’s callings to be greater or more important? I believe that this was certainly the case with the Ephialtes. He had no confidence in who he was authentically created to be and formed an ambition that was outside of the purpose for his life. Many of us in the body of Christ are in the same boat, and we need to abandon ship before it sinks…

Ambitions that are ungodly and selfish always result in some form of destruction. Think about the pastor who believes he should be overseeing a “mega-church” or that he has revelation that the world “desperately needs to hear.” His ministry must be something grandeur in order for him to feel affirmed in his calling and to tell him he has value. So he starts watering down the Word of God and comes up with catch phrases that sound more like an advertisement or a chant at a pep rally instead of the pure gospel truth. His junk sermons make people feel good about their sinful situations; thus they never grow spiritually, but the congregation keeps growing in number. Before long, he and his church are in great error, but his “success” blinds him to the truth. The offering plates are full due to large numbers and the focus is on prosperity and notoriety rather than character and integrity. II Timothy 4:3-4 prophesied this present reality by stating “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (NKJV) In addition to his thousand-dollar suits he dons when preaching in front of the congregation, his growing celebrity status becomes a stronghold. He is unable to preach the pure unadulterated gospel for fear of losing members, but his congregation is still sipping on milk and not able to digest the solid food of the Word of God. Most of his congregation is stuck in the pit of sin and can’t get out because they aren’t even accustomed to receiving any form of rebuke or correction. Thus, his ambition has led himself and several other souls astray. In order to regain right standing with God, he will have to be humbled greatly, repent of all that he has done and suffer the consequences that he will have reaped.

If we are in the Kingdom of God, then everything we do should be for His glory alone and should benefit the kingdom. We are to love one another and focus on others more than ourselves. Ambitions that were not born from the spirit of God will always lead to works of the flesh. I Peter 5:6 states “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (NKJV) But in order to do this, we have to have a proper reverence for Him. A healthy fear of Him. Understanding that we are only saved by His grace and recognizing that we owe Him everything will cause someone to realize that they really don’t have a leg to stand on. In other words, we don’t have the right to waste time pursuing things that don’t bring Him glory or that have hidden agendas bent towards self-exaltation. And I believe the Lord will test those He has chosen in this very thing. Doors will seemingly open to the things that we desire and have hoped for, but they will involve compromising what we know is pleasing to the Lord. Are our ambitions so strong that we are willing to jeopardize our relationship with the Lord in order to get what we want? Unfortunately, Judas’s answer to this question was a resounding “yes” when he betrayed Jesus Christ for some silver. Hopefully, you and I will make the right choice.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Spirituality

 

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Christian Hollywood

When I think about the story about who Satan was when he was Lucifer, so many things concerning the entertainment industry, especially the music, make perfect sense. According to Isaiah 14, he was the music minister in the heavens and was the most beautiful out of all of the angels. As we know he got full of himself and believed that he should be equal to the almighty God. He worshipped the gift (music and beauty) instead of the giver and believed that he owned those gifts. His position and level of gifting made him lofty in his own eyes. So when God decided to create mankind, He decreed that the angels would have to bow before man and serve them. Well, this was way too humbling of an act for Lucifer. Of course, we all know there was a war in the heavens and he was thrown out along with one third of the angels. (See Revelation 12:7-10 and Ezekiel 28:12-18) Now he roams the earth and rules principalities, along with his demonic forces. In the demonic realm, he runs the entertainment industry which has proven to be one of the greatest weapons of all time in terms of creating mass deception and distractions from establishing the Kingdom of God in the earth.

There are many directions I could go with this but I want to explore how the spirit of Hollywood has now infiltrated the church at large in this country. Hollywood represents narcissism of the worst kind. It has its own standard of beauty and is all about keeping the average person in awe like a deer in headlights. Hollywood is all about glitz, glam and celebrating people who have some sort of ideal characteristic that pop culture and society cherishes and idolizes. No other country on this planet has nearly as many celebrities as this country. We have become OBSESSED with being celebrated. So it only takes one song, one script, one brand, or one fad for individuals to reach the masses and achieve fame. In this country, almost anybody at any given moment can become a “star” someway, somehow. The arts in this country are HIGHLY celebrated and no other country has an entertainment industry like here. Unfortunately, this mindset has poisoned and perverted the worship arts arena in the body of Christ.

In the Kingdom of God, the arts are used for the same purpose as any other mantel or mountain: To reconcile the lost back to the Father. It is supposed to be the opposite of Hollywood. The purpose is not to entertain but to convict, edify, rebuke, encourage and HEAL the body, but most of all, exalt the name of Jesus and the Heavenly Father. Hollywood is the world system which is a fallen entity and it represents the culture of Satan. What is the culture of Satan? Greed, materialism, commercialism, competition, idolatry, sexuality (outside the covenant of marriage), etc. Sadly, there is now a “Christian Hollywood” that is proving itself to have little to no difference from the world system. Let me give you an example.

A great deal of the Christian music industry operates just like the secular industry. From several sources, I have heard time and time again that the Christian industry is just as cut-throat with business dealings as the secular, if not worse in some cases. More and more music is “industry” but not “Kingdom.” This music has no power to change hearts and minds and is birthed out of head knowledge instead of the wind of the Holy Spirit. I’m not referring to music that has beats or that is unconventional. I’m talking about music that is more focused on “cultural appeal” and that ministers to emotions but not the spirit. Why do so many Gospel songs talk about drama and “having to go through something?” Haven’t we progressed in our walks more than that at this stage of the game? The Word says that we are to go from glory to glory. This music was birthed with the same worldly mindset of coming up with “the next hottest thing.” The focus is on what sound is going to sell. Not on what sound is going to minister. What’s really sad is there is now a show that mimics American Idol and pits individuals who all represent Christ against each other competing for a record deal. Even worse, the judges are major gospel music artists who act like prima donnas and put contestants to shame when they don’t “make the grade.” Where is the Kingdom in this?! They are acting just like the world instead of being set apart. A mentor friend of mine always asks the question, “Would God compete with himself?” I can only imagine how many people who really do have the gift of song got turned away after auditioning and became seriously discouraged. I pray for those who may have shut down because they didn’t fit the “Christian Hollywood” standard. Can’t we see that this is all a ploy of the enemy to keep singers/songwriters/musicians from using their gifts for pure ministry? Shows like this one will only spark jealousy and discord amongst the artisans. The spirit of Hollywood has entered this arena and caused many to chase after it instead of the Kingdom. We now even have a major gospel duo that has their own reality show on TV, and it has NOTHING to do with ministry and advancing the Kingdom. What is the real purpose of being showcased before millions? I think we know the real answer. This is just like Lucifer who wanted to be worshipped instead of worshipping and obeying the One who created him.

I think about the various Christian movies that have come out in recent years. While I acknowledge that movies such as “The Passion of Christ” and “Courageous,” as well as a few others have made a major impact within the body of Christ, there are also several Christian movies that follow the same patterns of Hollywood. It seems like movies that have a true Kingdom message only come out about once every 2-3 years. This should not be! Unfortunately, there are many others that have watered down, cliché messages that only cause people on the outside to mock and scoff. Many of these movies simply showcase popular actors and music artists. The end product is a movie that doesn’t move someone (at least not me) to take action in their own lives. These movies just entertain and often appeal to specific cultures while giving people a false sense of security about their own sinful situations. In my opinion, these movies also have yet to find the perfect medium in terms of depicting real life issues versus light and fluffy depictions due to the fear of “glorifying sin.” Personally, I’m waiting for Christian movies that will begin HONESTLY addressing issues that are often the “elephant in the room.” You know, issues like sexual brokenness, racism, generational curses, leaders dealing with hidden sins, etc. Yes, the real stuff that will CHALLENGE us as believers. But of course, Hollywood’s fear of being too “preachy” or endorsing absolute truths has stained even the Christian movie industry.

So what do we see with the worship arts on a local level? We see individuals desperate to “make it big” in whichever form of worship arts they operate. Nowadays it seems to be a rarity to find worship leaders who aren’t looking for a record deal. Scribes would rather sell books and make the New York Times Best Sellers List than cherishing the obedience to write the pure words of Yah. People are passionate about their crafts more than the establishment of the Kingdom. This is the pride of life. They would rather book engagements and not serve in any real capacity. Lucifer rejected being a servant to God and many people reject using their gifts to serve Him alone and want to be made an idol before men. Why? Because the possibilities in this country are endless. Hollywood is glitz and glam while being a servant (disciple of Christ) is dying to self and esteeming others. Right now, there appears to be a lot of artists, but not many true ministers. A lot of charisma and talent but no ANOINTING. Too many people are being led astray by celebrity leaders in the body of Christ who preach false doctrines. Too much ambition is giving off a foul aroma from the pulpit and there is too much elevation of flesh instead of spirit. Remember, ambition was the very thing that got Lucifer thrown out of heaven.

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that God lifts up certain people but for His purpose only. However, the artisans that obtain a level of fame or notoriety should be set apart and not acting like celebrities in Hollywood. They should still be HUMBLE. There are in fact people who are supposed to be wealthy but it is only because He can entrust riches to them to build and advance His Kingdom. Not their kingdom. I admit that the spirit of Hollywood is something I have to battle because of my desire to operate vocationally in my craft. It is very hard for me to not admire artists, authors, musicians, professional athletes and the like. That’s why I am so thankful to be a part of Voices of Christ Literary Ministries International. The teaching of this ministry has kept me grounded and helped me to see the heart of the Father regarding the worship arts. I am waiting for my heart to fully believe that only that which I do for Christ will last. Everything else will burn up in the end. Christian Hollywood has brought nothing but entertainment, competition, comparison and compromise to the body of Christ. These are all altars of the demonic realm that Voices of Christ seeks to tear down. All of us in the body of Christ play a part in this and have to make a choice. We are either going to worship God or Baal. The following scripture comes to mind: Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (NKJV)

The good news is that God is in the act of replacing those ministries that allowed the spirit of Hollywood to pervert them. God is cleaning house. He is blowing the trumpet. I pray that He will send weeping prophets to the Christian entertainment industry to restore order just like He did when He sent Nathan to King David. Eventually, I believe the world will witness PURE MINISTRY like they never had before. These future artisans will know who they are and won’t need to win an Oscar, Grammy, Dove or Stellar award to be affirmed. God will use them to break off the spirit of Hollywood from the area of the worship arts.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Spirituality

 

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