by Pam Clark

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." -- 2 Timothy 1:7

Have you ever been in "the twilight zone"? Have you ever met a Mr. or Mrs. Mean Bean Bizarro? Have you ever been on an unending witch hunt? Well hang around a while and you will encounter some of it, sad to say.

There are forces of evil that attack the mind. Scripture calls it the "winds and waves of doctrines." These mindsets have forces, but the good news is that you don't have to go there!

Often people will come to me to defend Christianity or a person or movement in Christianity and desire that I subscribe to an unBiblical code of conduct. Sometimes I fall for it because I am thinking there is something I am going to learn, but thank God, sooner rather than later now, I am figuring it out!

The best advice I ever got a long time ago was to know the Bible for myself. I took classes to help me and the payoff has been incredible. If you have a heart for God, there are not words to express how valuable that information is, because people have agendas and sometimes those agendas are inspired by the evil one.

One of the things that the enemy will use to come against your life is the fear of abandonment. He will try hard to convince you that you can lose your salvation by unintentional error. And one of the ways he will work on that plan is work hard to make you feel shame for who you are - "you don't measure up, you aren't perfect, you are ignorant or not with it." Don't buy that garbage. And it can come from "big name" people!

It's the truth that sets you free and keeps you free. What you may have thought was so awesome because of a big production, may not be awesome at all. If you know the Scriptures, they will see you through! If you don't seek to know Truth, then you have intentional error.

You have seen the ads - "You can't live without this tape or book" or "If you miss this event you will never have another opportunity." It's possible there may be some truth to that, but you need to pray and ask God if that is true. We can't grow without instruction and we can't mature without God encounters, but is there a peace in your life that is growing and will sustain you? And does that peace come from man or God?

The winds and waves can progress to "If you are not a part of this church or ministry, you are missing God" to the witch hunts of "You need to be careful and not trust that or them!" Is it based on a sound mind? I have seen some wild stuff and so have you.

What does it mean to have peace with God? Everything! I am so grateful for my first Spirit filled pastor. He used to say, "The God who took care of you yesterday will take care of you today." There was a group of college age kids and the Spirit visited the city where I was going to school and many got baptized in the Holy Spirit and on fire for God! For a season, some even lived in community and it was a blessing for them.

God was doing some wonderful and awesome things and that time forever benefitted my life, but along with the good came some challenging agendas. Some were just some flesh inspired ideas and some were sent by the enemy to confuse, divide and conquer, and some of those evil plans were successful, but it was because the Truth was not known and pursued. Often there can be something inside of you that cries out, "This isn't right! This isn't the whole story! Something is wrong here!" And you are right.

Sometimes a blessing can be so good that you can't believe it's true and it is, but sometimes there is a little voice inside of you that is trying to warn you to be careful. Sometimes that voice comes through friends or is just inside your spirit, but when you hear it, weigh carefully what is going on and see if you can find Scripture for it that doesn't compromise you or other Scriptures in a big way.

Some Scriptures can be used to present an unbalanced agenda. The enemy came at Jesus on the mount of temptation with the Word of God but it was not balanced and He refuted it with "It is written" with the full balance and counsel of the Lord. If you are ignorant of the Spirit of the Word of God because you don't know the Word of God, you can be vastly deceived, because your heart will want to trust that which is presented in the Name of the Lord.

Do you know where you are going in life? Have you received a heart for the things of God? If you have, you will have some direction. None of us knows everything, but something should speak inside of you that, "This is a good thing, I want to do that," and it be a blessing to others and yourself. You should feel good when you are helping someone else. But have you weighed out the program? Is it balanced?

Some people will have a good program going on but defend it with lies or improprieties. Then a warning flag should be going off. No ministry should ever have to lie to defend itself. God does not lie "for the sake of the ministry." He does not misrepresent one to another to put His agenda across. He does not work that way. He does not sacrifice souls He died to save on the altar of unGodliness.

But every day people are fooled and beguiled by just such things. If they believe it, then they have a faulty foundation. I remember one time when some people told me I had faults in my foundation. But you know what? I didn't. It was a plan to have me come into a way of thinking that was like "the group" and was designed to have me come into a submission to people rather than to God. Later the fruit of that manifested in a big way.

Control issues were a problem, the spirit of rejection manifested, secret agendas and "exclusive" groups and programs were going on, and while at first my feelings were hurt, my mental health stayed strong and my ministry grew. I used to fall for such stuff until I got burned enough times. God has given me the grace to survive it. There are many "exclusive" groups in the Name of the Lord. Some are for discipline purposes but some are for deception. Can you discern?

Many churches are known to have agendas for God but also require that you submit to an agenda of man. You really have to weigh it out. There is a discipline that requires strictures for a purpose and goal, but does it serve God or man? Are you fulfilling God's calling?

Sometimes the goal of a church is not your highest purpose in the Lord but is the agenda of the Lord. This is one reason why you have to pray about where you go to church. I remember when an influx of new converts came into a church I attended and they were full of zeal. There were some who wanted to do a feeding program to the street people. It is a noble and wonderful idea! But these were new converts who had not been proven for discipline.

While the pastor acknowledged it was a great idea, he was not ready to throw a lot of church money in on that. I could understand that, but these people became offended. Well, they were offended because they were babies, not because the idea was not of God. Some badmouthed the pastor as not being "of God" and some just got disappointed, and some dropped out.

So was the pastor wrong? Well, the pastor has to answer for that, because I don't know if God was calling him to do a feeding program for the street people or not. It's certainly a great thing, but is the church required to finance all the inspired ideas of the flock? Do you know how many "inspired ideas" that people can come up with?

Do you know how many people start off with good ideas but don't follow them through? There are many people who want to be prophets so they begin giving out words but don't want to stay around for the correction and apologize if their words are wrong or damaging. There are many who will take the money for the program but never do the program, or who start it and don't finish it. A good leader has to discern and allot accordingly.

All babies from the womb have the sin nature that focuses on self first. Babies love attention and some of that is good for survival and mental health, but if it is obsessive, then it becomes a problem for other people who live with them and has to be dealt with, because often it can affect other people who have a right for quality of life as well.

The true Christian will want to grow. The true Christian will want self discipline. (Another translation uses the words "self discipline" for the words "sound mind" in the above verse.) The true Christian, including those in ministry, will come to a place where they realize that we have to accommodate others with their weaknesses and shortcomings and work and live together. Life is a challenge, but there are anointings for the ministry, and a commanded blessing for unity!

These people I refer to may have had an anointing for feeding the street people but needed to prove their faithfulness by showing up to help clean the fellowship hall and kitchen after church functions for a number of weeks. They needed to prove that they would show up and take responsibility. A leader or participant of a ministry, in any department, will have a vision that they want to see implemented.

If it is a true vision, they will faithfully work at it. A good idea may not be a God idea. If it is a God idea, the heart for it never goes away. While sometimes it may get discouraged, and even feel defeated, the desire will always be there. This is where you have to discern if a discipline is needed, or if you need to find another location to fulfill the desire.

But do we live for just one desire? Hopefully we are balanced Christians. I have seen Christians abandon their faith for their desires. We need to pray to see if we make a way or wait for a way. Sometimes God holds us off so we will learn needed life skills. Sometimes the enemy will hold us off because he is against the good work. Have you prayed about it?

God will not misrepresent, lie or connive to prove His work or calling in your life. Often our flesh gets in there, but the successful works in God that hold their ground do so out of commitment to the right things. Maybe this church was not called to feed the street people so much as it was to evangelize the lost. Feeding the street people can be incorporated into that, but not be the primary focus. Are you will to serve where your calling is not the primary focus? Maybe those who had the desire for that should find another church where they could focus on this more and grow in the Spirit there.

The key is growing in the Spirit. There are many what is called "dead churches" who are locked into the tradition of doing the same good works over and over to the point that they depend on the good works to save them and not God. But we need to be careful how we respond to that because God may be using that church to minister to needs that need to be met.

We need to figure out, is this need mine or theirs? Because we can't always judge another's calling unless it does not match the Word of God. And we need to find our place of ministry and realize that it may take some time. You cannot grow in the Lord and truly know without coming into a knowledge of the Scriptures.

When I first became Spirit filled I was a zealot for end time prophecy. You should have seen me preach to my parents about how the world was going to end. They put up with that for a while and then got tired of it, because they could weigh it out. In fact, my mother told me that she left a Spirit filled church in her 20's because they went so wild with end time events that it was stealing her future. That really sobered me, because I had a benefit by that decision.

But the sad part was, part of the heritage I could have had in the Spirit filled life growing up was lost. Who was wrong? Well, there were no churches easy to find with a good balance. My mother really had not made a bad decision in the light of all that. What she chose grounded me from going off the deep end later on, and I came pretty close. But the values of honesty and integrity and the love of God versus blast them to Kingdom Come "for the sake of the Gospel" paid off for me having a successful ministry today. Because they tried to recruit me into that and later tried to blast me for not doing it their way!

Many get disappointed when they grow enough to find out that the church world isn't perfect. It's a real bold act for some to change churches. But there are many different churches and they all don't have the same agendas or focus. But the real question that needs to be asked is can you grow in the Lord there?

Some get flippant and say, "Well if this doesn't work, I will go to the next one" without praying about it. Believe me, if you are trying to grow in the Lord, you will get persecuted for your decisions. But the fruit of you ministry should be some successes in ministry. There will be positive feedback in a healthy place.

God is managing billions of people and if you know the Word, then you will see that the "church world" has never been perfect but people still have pressed on successfully in their faith. I was told that if the United States tried to feed the birds of Texas for just a month, that it would bankrupt the nation. Isn't that amazing? God takes care of the birds! He does want our cooperation and there are good people and evil people but He does have this all under control.

Is the peace of God ruling and guiding your life? You can have peace with God that man (or woman) cannot take away! You just have to believe the Truth and what Jesus had to say. Peace is something that should be growing in your life. You will need that growth for these last days because tribulations will increase! When things get squirrelly, hopefully you don't have to "go there." Use the power of your choice to choose God and not a misrepresentation. He will give you a sound mind that resonates in your heart and spirit. It will line up with the balanced Word of God.

Jesus died so that we could realign our spirits to Life. When the spirit man lines up, with integrity, honesty and truth, the rest just falls in place including our eternal life. We need people, but heaven and earth can pass away, but His Word, which is alive, will never pass away and it will be fulfilled. We need to be part of that fulfillment with a sound and stable mind. He gives it!