Dealing with Offences Part 1 by Pastor Leon Forte
During Praise and Worship, one of our dancers did a heartfelt dance to the song Alabaster Box. After the dance, Pastor Forte told us God still desires the alabaster box today, but you are the alabaster box. In order to get what God desires, we have to be broken because what is inside of us is precious. There is a line in the song that says, “You don’t know the cost of the Alabaster Box.”
Pastor Forte told us he remembers a Tom Cruise movie where Tom was interrogating Jack Nickelson, and Jack Nickelson asks Tom Cruise, “What do you want?”, and Tom replies, “I want the truth.” And then Nickelson tells Tom, “You can’t handle the truth.” Pastor Forte loves that line because it is so true.
If you know what some of the people around you have been through, you’d love Jesus even more. But most importantly you would understand why some people will dance and worship the way the dancer at our church danced. Her dance shows how great Jesus is, and no one else could show it the same way. Pastor Forte told us he did not have to know what she went through, her dance with such love and passion tells the story of what Jesus did for her.
Pastor Forte said many churches talk about multiculturalism. He talked about how, in these supposed multicultural churches, the black folks sing and play music and entertain, the Hispanics usher, the are no women in the pulpit – only white males, and then they have multicultural nights, although at times they call them “urban” nights. There may be three or four separate churches in the same building, but until you can sit shoulder to shoulder with people, you’re not ready to receive the fullness of who God is. Pastor Forte said our church is a true multicultural church. The very Jesus we worship looks as Hispanic as He does white and black as well. Pastor Forte said that you don’t run around the desert without at least getting a tan. The Bible describes Jesus with wooly hair – that’s an afro any way you think of it, he was a Jew so he had the original curl activator. Pastor Forte told us that our church looks like what God looks like, we have achieved something they are paying thousands of dollars to bring experts in to get, and we got it just by loving.
Pastor Forte told us that there was deliverance in the room tonight. (Heather’s comment, he was accurate.)
Luke 17:1-4 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Jesus was talking to the disciples. The biggest hinderance to the Body of Christ going forward is dealing with offences. If we are growing in God, if we are learning about who we are, what our assignment is, if we know who we are and who we are not, we ought to expect certain things to come against us, simply because we are going in the right direction. If we are fish swimming in the water we would be like the trout swimming against the current. So it is impossible, Jesus said speaking to his disciples – which includes us, to have no offences. If you are doing what you are called to do you will encounter offence and be offensive to someone else. If not, you are staying at home too much or you are a hermit and your family doesn’t come over. We won’t find a shortage of offenses. How you handle offenses matters. When you are going to a new level you will experience the phenomenon of: Higher Levels/Higher Devils. You have to learn how to deal with offenses because they are coming. The body of Christ is becoming a group of whiners when things are not going their own way.
We are becoming isolationists. Salt cannot make impact until it has contact. We can’t get salt out of a salt shaker by trying to stick a french fry into the little hole in the shaker, we have to shake the salt out of the shaker. When God shakes us up, we have to get out of the shaker. When God shakes us up, the Church tries to scoop us up and put us back into the shaker before we melt. We are supposed to melt. We are supposed to be the anchovy on the devil’s pizza. What we want is our salt to give the devil high blood pressure. We are the salt of the earth. We preach might but practice flight. It doesn’t take a whole lot of devil to get to us, you just have to say something. If people don’t look at you the right way, if they are singing the wrong song, come on TV the wrong way we get offended. Don’t cuss at us because that will make us totally offended, but we act like we never cuss. If we got money for every time we cussed after we got saved, we would have enough money for every ministry in the church. Offences are going to come. This is not Ozzi and Harriet or the Huckstables, If we are married we will get get offended, sooner or later we will offend people or get offended by people. Even with your best friend you will be offended.
How do we handle offense.
In the Greek, the word for offence is skandalon. It means a trap, to snare, cause of displeasure, cause to fall, stumbling block. The New Testament uses this term metaphorically of anything that arouses prejudice or becomes a hinderance to others or causes them to fall by the way. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as transgression, sin, insult, wrong, resentment, a cause of displeasure.
Pastor Forte asked us how many were offended today (hands went up), yesterday (hands went up). He then told us that if you raised your hands it was that you were living with your offence or working with it. I think everyone was honest so every hand went up.
In every multicultural body offences really can come. Everybody doesn’t do what you do, the way you do it, clap the way you clap, like the song you like. Each has a different expression of praising God or showing love to the brethren. In a multicultural community serving many nationalities you cannot have a store that doesn’t have a shelf that contains curry power for various cultures, hot sauce for others. We have different ways that we express even in how we love one another, and we can get offended in little ways.
For example, Pastor Forte had us laughing when he said that sometimes asking for volunteers is like cussing in Church. And it is only certain people that come forward. In his church, while he is trying to develop his TV program, and his church is located near a school that teaches media, many of those who are taking media studies do not volunteer to help. A member told Pastor Forte’ he needs to stop asking and start appointing. He asked a woman to help in the nursery and she got offended because she had her doctorate. She didn’t realize that Pastor Forte was blessing her, because one of the biggest blessings is helping children grow in God. Taking care of little ones is one of the best ways to sow seed.
He told us one of his members never looked him in the eye, and then later he found out that Native Americans have a tradition of not looking leadership eye to eye, so the man was showing great respect, but if he didn’t know that, he could have taken offence or felt that he had offended this person. As Americans we are all brought up differently, and our standards are different, so others can rub us the wrong way because they do not model our standards, and that can cause offense.
Even in church, if the wrong black child asks a right white child out there is a problem while we are singing songs about the blood being the great equalizer. We feel that everything is ok until it gets to my family, until it gets personal.
In church we try to FAITH IT AWAY – but that is another name for denial.
Or we say, I DON’T RECEIVE THAT. Imagine facing a pit bull who is growling and showing its teeth, with it’s eyes bugging out and try saying to it, “I don’t receive you.” You will be picking your appendages out of its teeth. You need to back up slowly and find a weapon and make sure that you are protected.
Christians go into denial, we act like things don’t hurt us, and we use little excuses. We decide we have to move to a different church instead of dealing with offences. Usually the statement made is, “I think my season here is over.” People get offended when the pastor asks someone else instead of them, thinking, can’t he see the anointing is all over me?
Offences do this:
1. They trap and stagnate a person in a moment in time and it freezes them in the place of the offence. One person, tells a seven-year-old child that the child has knobby knees and ever since that statement was made, because of the offence, the person never wore shorts, hid their legs under long dresses, doesn’t want anyone to say anything about a knee to them or they get offended. They are still caught in the memory of that statement made when they were seven-years-old. And all of us, as children, from early on, when we were tender are very vulnerable to offenses. It stagnates you in that moment. The offence has the ability to stop you from where you are going. The way a child’s mind works is like a library card catalog. Many of us have card catalogues of offences and we put the offence on a card in the back of our catalog, buried and it stays there. So at the appointed time, when we are mature enough to handle it, God comes along and pulls it out, and tells us that for where we are going this card is taking up space, and it is time to get rid of it. It’s time to get on with it. The reason it goes far in the back is that it allows the child to continue to grow until they are able or mature enough to handle dealing with the issue. It is important to remember that, because we are now in a particular level of spiritual growth, God is bringing up certain things to our remembrance that we had put behind us. If we don’t deal with these things we will never be who we are called to be because that thing is standing in our way. We can get stagnated if we don’t deal with it. We are like a tape player with the pause button still engaged. The player is still on, but the tape isn’t going anywhere, for it is paused in that one position, until something comes to hit the play button. Sometimes God pauses us in certain places in our lives, sort of like the SELAH in the Psalms, to pause and reflect, and not go forward until you have meditated on what you just read. So there are some times you have to camp out at a particular place. But forced campouts due to prejudice, insult, and injury that victimize us by offence and holds us captive and holds up progress. The offence, NOT the person, for the person sometimes doesn’t even realize they have offended you. A person cuts in front of you, and you carry the anger of that for the rest of the day. Some of us tell the devil how to offend us. “If that woman comes over to my desk and touches my stapler, one more time, I’ll give her a piece of my mind.” Sure enough the devil brings someone to our desk so we can share how wonderful Sunday’s church service was, and how we were blessed, and then that woman comes over and takes the stapler with an attitude that pushes our buttons, and we give her that piece of our mind, totally destroying our testimony. And you told the devil how to do that.
2. Offences cause the victim to become a steward of a negative experience. We rehearse and nurse the offence. Saying things like I can’t believe they did that to me. We nurse and rehearse, and we have a support group that keeps tearing the scab off. Christians don’t gossip, they share, we nurse and rehearse. Jealous friends who remind you that your boyfriend left, or remind you of a damaging issue that stagnates your progress. Be careful of offences for they keep you from growing. I can’t believe they let me down. When those offences come we have to guard your eye gate and your ear gate. Several of the big ministries are going down to divorce. We have to remember that love covers a multitude of sins. The Greek word for cover is “Kalupto” which means the bark around the meat of the tree. The bark protects the white wood of the tree. The whole trunk of a tree is not brown, there is a white inner core that is protected by the bark. Your average Christian TV or radio station always wants to talk about the latest divorce or debacle, and keeps tearing the scab off so the offence never heals. The reason that entertains us is because we don’t go to that church, but we have the same offences in our home churches. We have a seed of criticism, been practicing our bitterness because of how the media repeatedly talks about the situations, so when it comes up in our churches, instead of ministering grace and mercy, we administer judgment. And this is at a time when there are more divorces inside the church than outside. We are supposed to be vicars of love and we can’t stay married. We are spiritually old enough that we ought to be able to handle offences, and we have a younger generation watching us handle or mishandle offences and the younger generation is going to imitate us.
3. It builds walls of separation and division between the offender and the offended. Someone said something to you one time when you first started going to church and you have been mad at them ever since. Now you need a healing and the person who offended you may be carrying your healing, but because you are offended, not because the devil is there, we blame the devil for everything. They may be the person carrying your deliverance, but because you won’t give them access to you because you are offended, they don’t give their blessing and you stay bound. A whole attitude all goofed up, and they might carry your deliverance, healing. They preach something you don’t like, you don’t listen to them anymore and they may preach something to bless you all your life, and you won’t hear it. If you judge me on a one time encounter, you may miss some important opportunities. You are walking in pride, you have judged somebody and think that that one thing defines them. They may be carrying a prophetic word for you, they may be singing a song that frees you. You are so busy being offended you miss your blessing. It happens in every church and it keeps people from moving forward. This message, Pastor Forte is preaching not to beat us up, but to empower us to move forward. There may be a financial blessing waiting for you, but your pride does not allow the person with that blessing to have access to you.
4. Offences distort, perverts the victim’s perception of not only themselves but of who the offender truly is. It distorts your perception of who you are and who your offender is. When you are offended by your spouse it will color how you see that person and ultimately will affect your marriage, giving an atmosphere of separation. An offence is just like the devil – in the Garden of Eden the devil was a snake, by the end of Revelation it has grown into a dragon – somebody’s been feeding him. We need to stop him while he is a little garden snake, before he grows to the size of Godzilla and burns up my city. It distorts your vision, and you don’t realize it. Many young men marry women like their mother – and women marry men like their fathers. Pastor Forte’s daughter is the first African American to earn the Appalachian Scholarship – which pays for all four years of her college, she called her father first, not her mother. We tend to receive better from the parent of the opposite sex when they tell us we are handsome/pretty, etc. When people get married, a boy will usually pick someone that is similar to his mother as a standard of what a woman is so the boy goes out and looks for his mother. Some of the stuff he rejects from his wife is not because of her, but because he is trying to get his mother out of the situation. Some of us are goofed up in our marriage because there is no father in our house and we don’t know how to relate to a man in the first place.
Pastor Forte told us that our church is so successful because it has order. Most churches have more of a matriarchal spirit, than a patriarchal spirit because the churches are made up of people who come from broken homes and mama has been authority figure and they don’t know how to accept authority from a male. We end up getting offended because someone responds one way, another in a different way, and it is because they are carrying things from their past. They are mimicking how they grew up, and if we don’t watch it we can get caught up in dysfunction when God wants to set us free. Lets say you hate your mom and you allow your wife to become your mom. She doesn’t want to sleep with a man that seems like her son. We end up doing stuff that gets in the way and we all get offended. He won’t lead – you won’t let him lead, you tell him everything to do, not letting him lead – that’s his mother, not his companion.
3 things a woman marries when she gets married.
1. A father figure, she looks for someone to affirm who she is. When a father gives the bride’s hand in marriage, at that moment a spiritual exchange takes place. I was her provider and protection and nurturer, now you are to do these things, and also bring the next generation from her. A covering.
2. Lover -somebody she can be naked and not ashamed with. When God made man he made him in his image. Pastor Forte talked about Adam and Eve using a couple from the congregation. Dust of earth, created in the image of God, God breathed on him and he became a living soul, just like God. He made him a grown man – not a child. When God made things God gave Adam the job of naming them. Man began to see that the animals all had mates, but not himself, heifer and bull makes a calf, mare and stallion, a pony. He tells God, I don’t have anyone like me. God says it’s not right that man should be alone. ALL ONE. Not all self-contained. God put man asleep, and took from a rib (DNA, Cell) separates female entity from the male entity of God. Closes the man back up and God presented the woman to the man. He had to receive her and when he received her, he said something parental – bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. She is like me. Adam gave birth to her. Adam and Eve used to be all one – biology 101 – don’t be offended. He has an appendage that hangs from him, she has a chasm not fulfilled – this makes sex so sacred. Pastor Forte told the youth your virginity is something you can only give one person in your lifetime – guard it. God, when the two of them are together can see himself as He originally made him. They create something from nothing in the dark. The enemy wants to offend them so they cannot continue to reproduce little ones. Very important – if his mother has done something, every time he gets near that, it is an offence. They leave their mother and father and cleave to each other.
Pastor Forte told us three points and only shared two – if I can, I will ask him for the third point.
Pastor Forte shared more things offences do, which I will share in the next entry. I wish you could have heard him speak, for he is such a blessing and delivers a powerful message. So much of what he shared resonated with me, and I know with others as well.
I pray your Sunday is blessed.
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