Updated: Sep 6, 2020
There is so much on my heart, as I'm sure there is on yours. With the world spinning in every which direction, it can cause a whole host of emotions. As I've been praying through the events we are all caught-up in, the Lord has given me a message that I believe is important to pay attention to in this season, because I believe it reveals what lies at the root of so much of what is taking place. And it's something I believe the Lord is asking us to take a deeper look at. While it might feel hard to look at it under a microscope, especially in our own lives, the temporary discomfort is well worth the discovery that ultimately brings freedom. The kind of freedom that allows us to move unhindered and fully in the promises we've been given by Jesus Christ.
The message that burns deep within my heart is the result of several dreams and visions that I believe are very much a message for today...
This is a story and a message that might offend some people and I'm okay with that. I haven't always been - it's honestly taken me years to get to this place - being the classic middle child who can't stand conflict and whose decisions are made based on the level of peace that can be acquired. But in recent years, as I’ve bumped up against offense, the Lord has graciously been teaching me how to walk through it. It’s not a pretty sight. It’s hurtful and it's destructive - to people on both sides. But it's something the Lord has been showing me is important to recognize and to stand boldly in front of. Sadly, we see it in the world all around us more now than ever before, and if you haven't come face to face with offense yet, it's likely right around the corner.
As I prayed through sharing this, the Lord reminded me that He never said this life would be easy. There are days I wish I could go back to simply sitting in a pew, listening to a message that mildly impacted me and then back to business as usual - oblivious to the spiritual battle around me, busy in all the details that really don’t matter. But I can’t. I’ve surrendered my life to the Lord - all of it. So, for me, that means when God tells me to walk boldly into the firestorm, I walk. It's not a battle I asked to enter, but who ever really wants to walk into a storm? Regardless of how I feel, it's a storm that the Lord has called me into. It involves the raging battle against two sometimes sneaky, but always very bold, spirits and the blinding that has overtaken our nation.
Let me introduce you to two “girls” the Lord has shown me through a series of dreams and visions that I believe have settled into our nation, churches, ministries and families across America...their names are Emmy and Jezzy.
Emmy first appeared on the scene in my life through a dream. In the dream, a friend and I decided to go into an athletic store. Strangely, we had a stroller with us, but there was no baby, so we left the stroller, along with our cell phones, outside the store and went inside to look around. Once we were inside, one of the workers asked if we would hold their baby for them, named Emmy. End of dream. At first glance, it really didn't seem that significant. Praying through it, however, the Lord showed me otherwise. The name Emmy means "industrious and striving." (Interesting side note that struck me as I was writing this...the name of the award show that gives a golden statue to those who have worked really hard to achieve something outstanding...the Emmy's.) I quickly realized that we had lost sight of our own baby and had gladly accepted holding someone else's baby. We had also left our only form of communication outside, out of our reach. It didn't seem super significant at the time, but later, the Lord would reveal how the enemy used that to slip in unnoticed. The interpretation from the Lord came swiftly and kind of felt like a kick to my gut. We let go of what the Lord had given us (in dream interpretation a baby often represents the call on your life or your ministry), lost our communication and picked up something else that involved works and striving. It made me sick and it hurt my heart. Because when the Lord showed me what the dream meant, I could instantly see all of it in the world around me.
As significant as the missing baby was, the lack of communication was equally as important. The Lord gave me clarity on that several months later as we were preparing for a big storm to hit in Georgia. Through a few dreams, I knew in my spirit that a storm was coming in the spiritual, and then suddenly the storm came in the physical. The tornado that touched down in our town, struck the ground on both sides of our house, knocking down a cell tower on one side and several trees on the other, keeping us trapped in our home for several days, unable to leave our neighborhood. Through the cell tower falling, the Lord showed me, physically, how the enemy has knocked down the ”cell towers” that are crucial in the spiritual battle. When the communication is gone, a gap opens for the enemy to slip into and fester in our minds and in our actions. It can be seen in some religious groups that practice something called shunning. The definition of shunning is "to keep away from (a place, person, object, etc.), from motives of dislike, caution, etc.; take pains to avoid." When the action of shunning is broken down to its bare bones - it’s an act of banning someone because they don’t think like you do and you don't like it. It’s an extremely dangerous religious tactic that the enemy uses to cause division and can wreak havoc in families, ministries or a body of believers.
It's become evident that the breakdown of communication is more prevalent in the world around us than I think we are willing to admit. And the simple fact is that one of the very first things the enemy does is to knock down the "cell towers", shutting-down all communication. Where there is no communication, there is no reconciliation. There is no discussion. There is no healing. There is only a void where the enemy steps in to begin the mental war that eventually, if left unattended, can destroy relationships. It's evident in the "cancel" culture of today as voices are being silenced for differing opinions, which in turn become even bigger breeding grounds for hate and division.
Emmy came representing a religious spirit that had taken the place of a deeply rooted love of Jesus. A religious spirit that, at its roots, is based in works and striving. It shows up in our lives when our identity is rooted more in the show of Christianity and less in the relationship with Christ. When we use the word "religion" in reference to our man-made efforts through works to please God. When we are caught up in tradition and miss the presence of the Lord. A religious spirit presents itself when being "religious" is more important than having a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's when someone knows the language and how to appear righteous to those around them, but internally they are filled with things that are not of the Lord...anger, resentment or jealousy. And it's costly. It's what was evident in scripture in the religious leaders who were angered by the very presence of Jesus, because their religious system felt deeply threatened by Him. When Jesus pointed out all the hypocrisy attached to their practice, His claims threatened everything about their authority. They couldn't accept it and they considered Him a threat to their way of life. Jesus lived outside the box that religious leaders had carefully crafted and He socialized with people that offended the pride of those leaders - something that simply didn't sit well with them.
The ugly problem with the religious spirit is that it seeks to take the place of what God originally called us to...our first love. Living at the foot of the cross. Knowing who our Father is, what His character is and recognizing His voice. The enemy uses the religious spirit to keep us from the depth of relationship we are called to live in with Jesus, by bogging us down in the works and details of religious programs, hindering us from truly running free after the heart of Christ.
Jezzy was introduced to me by the Lord one morning as I was praying when, out of nowhere, I heard clearly in my spirit - "Jezzy. Jezebel is so comfortable in your camp that she has a nickname." Another kick to the gut, only it felt worse this time, if that's possible. How could that be? Jezebel? At the time, I'm not sure I truly understood the severity of what the Lord was telling me. I quickly learned. And confirmation came from a friend who didn't know what I had heard from the Lord, when she texted, "there is a Jezebel spirit somewhere close by."
Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, king of Israel - was a woman who in scripture sought to silence the voice of God. A woman who refused to repent and lived a life teaching sexual immorality and sacrifice to idols. The character of who she was in scripture is what the Jezebel spirit makes reference to in our times - a woman who desperately wanted to silence the voice of God through control and manipulation, so that she could reign in power.
The Jezebel spirit that has woven its way into many of our lives, often presents itself in that very form of control and manipulation. When encountering the Jezebel spirit, emotion is a big player. The grasp for control is often backed by angry outbursts, irrational statements and offense. The emotional outburst becomes a smoke screen for the power grab that the enemy is attempting. The Jezebel spirit lusts for control and manipulation and seeks to gain power - a vicious spirit that can catch you off guard if you are blinded to its sneaky ways. And it is running rampant in our nation.
I know words like "spirit of religion" or the "Jezebel spirit" can make people nervous. I've been there. But what I realized is that it was because I didn't fully understand it. So, let me break it down for you the way the Lord has broken it down for me. The religious spirit operates out of works and striving. The Jezebel spirit, in its simplest form shows itself through actions of control and manipulation. In the seven letters to the churches in the book of Revelation, John, at the instruction of Jesus, writes on a scroll and addresses these spirits, saying to the churches, "I have this against you..." Spirits that display characteristics of the very people that Jesus and others throughout scripture encountered. Spirits that are sent by the enemy to control, manipulate and divide, they attempt to keep people functioning in the natural, shutting out messages of radical change or repentance that the Lord calls His people to. The kind of radical change and repentance that is necessary to turn the hearts of this nation back toward the Lord.
Two sweet girl's names, seemingly harmless and innocent enough. That’s exactly how the deception of the enemy works. Take a look around. Do you see it in our world? One little thing slides in, the thing you said you’d never agree with, the thing you’d never do, build, say, watch or be a part of. Or maybe the less obvious, the increased gap that now exists between your heart and that of your First True Love. Sliding just a little further down the slippery slope - the one the enemy designs to draw you in - in the name of tolerance, compromise, performance or acceptance.
In some ways the two spirits, religious and Jezebel, work well together. A religious spirit keeps us from getting too close to the Lord, never really knowing exactly who we are in Christ, luring us into “building” things that pull us from building the Lord's house and busying us in works. The Jezebel spirit then works to silence the voice of the Lord to keep us in that captivity. Enticing, luring and producing things in such a way that soon “she” becomes an important piece of the very foundation of what the spirit has invaded. It’s the ultimate goal of the Jezebel spirit to snake its way to the top and self-position to gain a certain level of power. And that’s the message I see in what the Lord has been showing me - be aware of what we’ve allowed in and what we've given voice to that is seeding our foundation. Because ultimately, a foundation seeded in anything other than the Lord will crash. It becomes apparent why the enemy might choose to work through these spirits or actions of people who aren’t aware they are functioning in it. When we look at pockets of our nation that are in a state of upheaval and uncertainty, we see common traits of these spirits at work...distraction, division, control, offense, pride, manipulation and a breakdown of communication. All of which are tools of the enemy and often fall under one of the two spirits.
Something that is extremely important to understand in all of this - people aren’t the enemy. Satan is. Plain and simple. We have to learn to separate the people from the spirits that are influencing their actions. Recognizing that it's not the person - it's the spirit the enemy uses to engage them in those behaviors, latching onto their insecurities or brokenness to bring about destruction. We are all susceptible to the attacks...there is not one of us that is above the enemy’s line of fire. In fact, the more you walk toward what God is calling you to, the more the enemy is going to come raging after you. Someone I met briefly a few years ago experienced that very thing when he and a group of guys walked into something pretty incredible that the Lord was doing. He told me that the Lord had prepared them for an entire year, through scripture and in prayer, for something they didn’t even know they were about to experience. The words he gave me as advice were the words he himself had heard from God...Get grounded in the Lord. Know who you are in Christ and don’t move from it. Know your character. The thing you are about to walk into will destroy you if you don’t know. It stuck with me and I did what he said because I believed it was a message from the Lord for me as well. And then I watched as, out of fear of man, a need to perform took over. Character and identity were forgotten for just a brief moment and the ministry fell. I don’t believe it was intentional and I don’t believe it’s who they are. But I do believe the enemy will always show up when God is on the move and if we aren’t standing on firm ground, our house will fall. I've seen it happen one too many times in the world around me.
When we fight this battle from a fleshly ground position, we can’t see what’s at work in the spirit. Through dream after dream and vision after vision, the Lord has been consistently showing me the spiritual immaturity that we are functioning in as believers. We put on a facade of spiritual maturity, living as Christians in title only, dipping back into the flesh when it's convenient. I had a dream where the Lord showed me we were trying to live with our feet in both worlds. Holding our meat but still dipping it back in the milk. We are at a time in history where we simply can’t keep dipping back into the flesh. We’ll miss the real battle. We’re missing it now. When people can freely lash out in hate, in person or through social media, and in the next breath quote scripture, there’s a problem. If the words coming out of our mouths aren’t pointing to Jesus, then they probably shouldn't be released. If what we say or do contributes to shunning or division, then we need to sit longer with the Lord and release to Him the hurts that are feeding our wounds or anger. It really boils down to behaviors and attitudes that the enemy sucks us into to keep us from moving into the fullness of what the Lord has for us. Striving and works. Easy enough to fall into. Control and manipulation, same. But if we are seeking the Lord’s face and desire to be in the fullness of His presence - we can’t bring any of that to the table. If we’re striving and working to perform to man's idea of what we should be doing - we’re not even going to get to the table - we’re too busy.
Spiritual warfare is as real as it can be and it's a reality that our eyes need opening to. I know it's real because I’ve watched battles play out in visions for hours at a time in the middle of the night. I’ve had a vision of swords sticking out of my midsection confirming attacks of words spoken over me that ended in a hospital trip. I've watched visions of throats being strangled as voices were choked out and I've seen spirits lying in wait for unsuspecting people in dreams. My prayer in sharing this is not to create fear, but that we become more aware, less intimidated and a whole lot bolder. I think we often brush it all off because it sounds like “too much," maybe feels too scary or involves us in something that might mess up our comfortable seat in the pew. We chalk it up to the crazy talk of slightly crazy people, putting them in a labeled category, discrediting the things they hear or see that make us uncomfortable. When I study the words in Revelation 2:20, however, I can't brush it off anymore. "But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols."
I believe we are in a season where the Lord is calling for a purifying of hearts...cleaning out everything that is not of God. The enemy is desperately doing everything he can to stop it as the spirits attempt to remove the importance of the messages of repentance, purity, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ministries, churches and believer's lives have become overwhelmed by the religious and Jezebel spirits and our nation is reeling from it. It's time to stop turning a blind eye to the spirits that are attempting to take control of unassuming and well-intentioned believers.
My prayer is that if this offends you, ask the Lord "why?" Ask the Lord to expose anything in you that is not of Him and to open your eyes to the places around you that the religious or Jezebel spirits may have their grips. There is absolutely a way to come back from it - but it will require facing the spiritual battle head on. To acknowledge how far we've slipped and then to fall on our knees in repentance. To acknowledge what has snuck into our lives and then to stop tolerating it. To come to the end of ourselves and to a place where all control is given over to the Lord. A place where purity runs deep and there’s no room for the enemy to work. And a place where the voice of the Lord is strong and sure in our lives, guiding us in all we do. The victory has already been won by God. It's our job to walk that victory out. Pure of heart, solid in Christ, sound in character, communication in place, eyes and ears open.
We have a nation to take back for the Lord.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you." - Romans 8:5-9
“Proclaim the Word. Keep your sense of urgency in season and out of season. Reprove, admonish, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not tolerate sound instruction, but having ears itching (for something pleasing), they will gather to themselves teachers chosen to satisfy their own lusts, and will turn aside from hearing the Truth and wander off into man-made myths.” - 2 Timothy 4:2-4