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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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