Dear Religion

I was visiting a friend recently and while over coffee she says to me. Oh, I must watch what I say because I know your religious. My face went dead pan. I said to her “In my faith world religion is a bad word” She couldn’t believe it. I went on and explained that I would rather be known as someone who has faith and evidences it everyday then be placed in a box called religion. Nor would I ever want my friend to feel that she couldn’t be her honest authentic self because I was “one of those religious people”.   The truth is I hate boxes. I react at the thought that I was “just like so and so” because I went to church. Jesus confronted ingrained religious culture by evidencing grace, love and sacrifice in all that he did amd he still calls us to do the same. Truth be told I want to be one of those believers who exemplifies relationship and confronts religious boxes. Boxes are not helpful in displaying freedom in any situation. Just try to put a cat in a box or a toddler! They will never sit there for long as their sense of freedom is being opposed upon. We are exactly the same.   It struck me that religion is alive outside of the church as much as it is inside the churches walls. I believe this needs to change and we have the power to do just that.

Jesus was clear about the dangers of religion as evidenced in Matthew 23. When teaching the disciples, he reflected on how NOT to follow their example. “For they don’t practice what they teach. The crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden (Matthew 23: 3-4).

I concur this same awareness stands today and needs to be broken.

I saw a video clip recently of a homeless man who attended a church. He stank, he looked disheveled and talked funny. He was either ignored or talked about and then was asked to sit at the back. As the speaker made an announcement to introduce the new pastor to the stage out walks this homeless looking man. The congregation was shocked. You see the pastor wanted to know who the congregation were when confronted with the ugliness of the world. I love this story not because of the reactions of the people but because a pastor was willing to really “see” his congregation. To me it is what Jesus was trying to convey to us. To choose love and grace while confronting mindsets that oppose this message. If the pastor chose to judge the congregation based on their reactions it would have been counterproductive to what he was there to do. It shows love and grace and a commitment to relationship beyond what is seen. I believe it will take this level of commitment to become what God would require of us to be effective leaders. Jesus said: and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10: 44-45).

Notice here he didn’t say that about just believers. His words were TO ALL. There he goes breaking religious cultures again! 😊

How do we counteract religion mindsets?

  1. Choose to live a surrendered life

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander along with any form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you (Eph 4: 31-32).

Notice that a choice is involved here. This is not for the faint hearted! Choose love and any grievances, pain and anger give to the Lord. I truly believe offence is one of the biggest tactics of the enemy and it wields its ugly head every day in families, churches and organizations. The more offended we become as a body the more our walls go up and relationships deteriorate. Choose to step out from that norm and confront those things that separate us and life as Christ would, surrendered.

  1. Exemplify what you want to see in others

In everything set an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they had nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8).

Be above reproach. In all that you do represent leadership by leading by example. Whether you are a mum, boss or in leadership what you do matters more than what you say. Be your authentic self in all situations the more we are in touch with ourselves the more the people around us will be the same. To many leaders focus more on the outside than what is happening on the inside for them. Practice self-awareness and authentically and vulnerably lead others to do the same. They will follow. People will follow authenticity.

  1. Mentor others and build strong kingdom focused networks.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5).

As you have learnt the art of living a surrendered life and have mastered becoming an authentic person I would encourage anyone to eagerly pray to mentor others in the areas you have had victory. It could be business, family, church whatever! Anything that God brings us through is never just for us. Testimonies are one of the most powerful tools we have in effecting cultures to bring revival. As we can see in Proverbs it takes two effect purpose. Choose to be the man of understanding and draw out from our brothers and sisters their own purpose. I believe that making that choice to do that will help you to find yours. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing God move upon someone who desperately needed it. The more we choose to go deep in ourselves and for others the higher God will take us.

I hope and pray that this post will help you to think deeper about what it takes to break out of religious mindsets. Jesus wasn’t afraid to confront culture to do the work his Father sent him to do. Galatians 2:4 says “ This matter arose because some false believers had infiltered our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves”. What a problem to have! That freedom was so attractive that the ranks were infiltrated! Moreover, as John shows us If the son sets you free, you are free indeed, join with me to show our families, organizations and churches what freedom looks like. I truly believe that as we walk out in freedom then we are bringing kingdom to earth!

Could you be an Orphan Spirit?

You see, Society tries to define us based on our looks, income, marital status, the house we live in, and the list goes on.  Go to any social gathering and you can see it in full action. The questions start with Hi, how are you? What do you do? Likeminded people will gravitate to likeminded people… There isn’t any harm in this after all it is human nature but I want to propose to you there is another way to examine your life.

My question is what happens to people if they don’t feel they fit in anywhere? Where do the misfit, forgotten ones go to belong? Let me assure you, This is a very reality for many people today.

It’s called an Orphan spirit.

An orphaned spirit can be defined as someone who is without a covering. These are people who were not parented in a way that teaches them the safety in being covered. If a child falls, the covering (parent/caregiver) is available to help them cope emotionally with the fall.  If the covering wasn’t there that child learns to cope emotionally on their own too much of this and they will soon develop an Orphan Spirit.  If that child has coped for a long time on their own it can make learning to trust others very difficult and even incomprehensible.

Orphan Spirits live in homes with high incidents of abuse, neglect and trauma. It knows no boundaries or social economic status or culture.  An orphan spirit can develop anywhere.

Orphaned Spirit Characteristics

  • Inability to be comfortable in family environments and struggle with parenting roles.
  • Fight for recognition and compete “to get to the top”. They want to win.
  • Unable to emotionally connect and relationships suffer, either at work, at home, or in the church.
  • Struggle with authority and fear being controlled.
  • Will value the pursuit of outwardly success, financially wealthy organizations, successful families, bigger churches.

These characteristics will choke the important things that matter. They pervert the very thing we are all chasing in this life… Significance…

My story:

I was an orphaned Spirit and in some ways, I still am. Without a family, I was left without a covering. Being the strong independent woman, I am, I hustled to be acknowledged. I did this through pursuing a career as a hairdresser, being a strong independent mum, moral girl who attended church, I could handle anything.  I mean I was responsible, right? I had it together. People told me all the time… Wow, Dani, you are incredible. I swelled with recognition and value. It made so much sense…. I felt invincible.

Suddenly I lost everything…

Are you an Orphan Spirit?

I lost my identity and when that orphan spirit rose up to be appeased but I couldn’t quench her voice anymore.  To explain, an international move to New Zealand precipitated a chain of events that forever shaped my life.  I lost my church, my family, my culture and was living halfway around the world, all my possessions had been sold, all that was left was my pictures and the clothes on my back and my beautiful daughter. I was 23.  Losing my identity was incredibly painful. I had hustled so hard for it. Now, it was gone.

Suddenly, I was that Orphan girl again. I did what I only knew to do.

I fought, but I fought in my own private time thorough surrendering my own agenda.  I cried and prayed, A LOT! It was all I had. If God didn’t listen to me I wasn’t sure I could survive.

He said things to me like:” I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. (John 14:18)” And he did.

What I didn’t know then was that he was mentoring me in what matters in life. Character, unity, freedom, leadership.  It birthed in me the pursuit of self-awareness and the need to carry those who are naked to him through relationships and discipleship.

I wish I can tell you that through that experience that my orphan spirit died easily. The truth is that she rose many times to remind me of what I am not. So, although things got easier my shame cycle could rise easily.  Please understand, an Orphan Spirit needs shame to survive.

Just recently, I learnt to stop ignoring her. I mean she was starved of love, belonging and affection for so long. She yearns to be noticed and embraced. Now I have learnt to talk to her… remind her that God has this and that rejection isn’t the end of the world. I tell her you know what? You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve accepted she is a part of me and without her, I would not be who I am today. I’ve learnt to be real with my very close friends about my areas of shame and the beliefs I have that scare me. The more I do that they more she is silenced and shame leaves and I experience a deeper level of healing.

What can we do to help Orphan Spirits?

  • If you identified with some of the characteristics as an orphaned Spirit you need healthy relationships pronto. Security is formed in relationships that account for a heart to heart connection. Pursue Sonship with mentors who can help you grow.
  • Pursue self-awareness. Find out what makes you tick. Get to know yourself and don’t be afraid to share what you learn with people who love you.
  • As a church, parent or organization seek out Orphan Spirits. Be powerful and create unity where you can, open the conversation and care about people that’s all it takes.
  • Pray, believe for freedom for others. I love when Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 10:23). Courage is key here. Be courageous, don’t be scared to fight for freedom. I promise you, you will win!

Id encourage you whether you are in a family, organization or church setting, be real. Go for the heart.  I choose to live a life worthy of the calling God has given me, choosing humbleness and gentleness, bearing patience, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to KEEP the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. In other words, keep connected to those that are disconnected until they believe you. Be who their covering wasn’t and don’t give up until they believe you. That is how we will win the war on Orphan Spirit and help hurt and broken adopt a spirit of sonship.