Beware of the Approval Trap by Pastor Leon Forte
Last night we had a visiting prophet – Pastor Leon Forte come to our church. What a blessed evening it was. He delivered a very powerful message and had us laughing so hard with his great sense of humor.
There is going to be a turning in the Body of Christ.
Pastor Forte spoke about the Volcano in Iceland. He was heading to speak at a conference and had flipped on the TV, only to find the volcano was reported on every channel. He said when God shows you something three times it is a message to take note about (that does not mean seeing the same episode of a hit TV show).
What Pastor Forte perceived was there was going to be a stirring of little things. The farmers moved their livestock to high places. The volcanic eruption was felt 16 miles away. There was a heat connected with it and what emerged from the volcano was ice and rock. The little volcano cut off all air traffic, not only in Iceland, but also in Europe. Even President Obama had to cancel his plans to attend a funeral.
The ice was glacier ice, which was thick and froze things in time. When the ice would melt, the water would flow in a river that was the size of the Amazon River.
Pastor Forte told us that this was a picture of what’s about to happen.
Praise and Worship is perfected when there is need and desperation. Praise is more intense when we are empty and in need of God. Oppression combined with emptiness causes praise to erupt. Stay active in your praise and your tough circumstances will melt – there will be rivers in the desert. The desert will become a place of refreshment. The river will become a place of growth and will feed others. Tribulation does produce good fruit if you praise in the midst of it with all you got. You can praise yourself out of tough situations, praise yourself into good health, praise yourself out of financial despair, praise can change things.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Do not be conformed. To try and conform is a syndrome that will keep us from God’s perfected gift in our lives. We are chosen by God, but unless we are willing to be transformed by God, we will not fully use the gifts that God has given us. We need to let GOD transform our lives.
What you conform to matters. We need to be aware of the approval trap. That is what is holding up the body of Christ. We tend to blame the devil for things that were not caused by the devil. We can be unhappy because of what we have chosen to do or not to do, and the devil does not have anything to do with it.
IF WE DON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE, ANYONE CAN DEFINE US. Don’t accept the limitations of those in the world who choose to define us, look at who we are in Christ. One of the main ways we let the world define us is by searching for approval of man. Everyone has a longing for approval. But that longing for approval can bring a spirit of defeat on ourselves.
Pastor Forte spoke about playing basketball, and having to find 10 players. Usually in a pick up game there are 9 good players and one who has no basketball skills – that person is called “self-checked.” In a game the opposing team has to cover the good players to keep them from scoring – that is called checking a player. If there is a player that is no threat to the game – no chance of scoring or effectively doing anything with the ball the team would consider the person to be “self-checked. They aren’t any good, won’t do anything, and you just hope they stay out of the way. ” Meaning no valuable player needed to be assigned to watch the player.
When we are very concerned about the opinion of man or the world satan does not have to send a valuable demon to guard us, our need for approval makes us self checked.
In the world there is a struggle to achieve someone else’s approval, we self check. We have a need to be liked, to gain validation. We seek validation from others – students seek validation from teachers, players from coaches, spouses from other spouses, and children from parents. The devil seeks to tell you that you are the opposite of who you really are. He wants to get you to the point where you compromise and seek the approval of others.
Pastor Forte told us that sometimes we lie to get approval. Since no one would probably want to admit to that, he used himself as an example. At a pastor’s conference the pastors talk faith, but embellish their stories. One pastor spoke about 250 men that he had in his chorus and asked Pastor Forte how many men he had in his chorus. Instead of saying that he didn’t have 200 in his whole church, he said, “We don’t believe in a chorus.” The pastor with the 250 men went to talk with another. Pastor Forte did not want to speak the truth in front of the pastors.
Your need to seek approval will transform you into the ultimate chameleon, changing your personality depending on who you are with. Pastor Forte calls this the CHAMELEON SYNDROME. The changing of colors is a defense mechanism so that you blend into your environment. If you are around people who curse, you curse; who gossip, you gossip. In the Church we don’t call it gossip, we call it “sharing.” And Pastor Forte told us that some of us are VERY gifted in “sharing.” Sometimes if you are with someone who likes to bash their spouse, you bash your spouse. He told some funny examples from men not wanting to ask directions.
He told this joke: A husband tells someone, “My wife is an angel, she is always up in the air harping about something.”
Pastor Forte cautioned women not to dominate their men for then the men will put the woman in the place of their mom, and that cools the relationship. He told men that women are looking for three things in a relationship.
We need approval from our spouse. We, as the church, should be expert at loving others. Yet the Church has a higher level of divorce than the world.
Pastor Forte then said, if you are a racist, you talk racist. Racism would not have had such a hold on the United States if the Church did not back it in the early history of the country. If we allow racism in the church it sanctions it in the world. It is not enough to just not participate in racism, we need to speak out about it. We are called to be standard bearers, and our children do not do what we say, they imitate what they see. We have depersonalized whole cultures by our racist attitudes. No matter who the President of the United States is, we need to pray for them – even if we do not like them or like their policies. If God placed them over us, we need to pray for them.
Not every Muslim is a terrorist.
In Eubonics Pastor Forte told us the story of Abraham & Sara, Isaac and Hagar & Ishmael.
God told Abraham that he was going to be the father of many nations, and that he would have a baby from Sara. Pastor Forte had us laughing when he said that Abraham’s mistake was telling Sara about this, that he had to be a brother because he probably went home and said, “Daddy’s here.” He spoke about Hagar and Ishmael, and how once Ishmael was born, Hagar treated Sara poorly. Sara responded by saying that Hagar had to go. We learn a few lessons about relationships from this episode. 1. Listen to your wife. 2. Don’t get unequally yoked. According to Pastor Forte God in effect told Abraham that I gave you an “H” for your name – changing it from Abram to Abraham, give your wife an “H” – Sarah.
Isaac was the son of the covenant. Yet God heard Hagar’s prayer and made Ishmael a prince of twelve tribes.
God had a baby who became illegitimate and he had to send him away – Adam from the Garden of Eden.
When we sit in judgment over an entire race of people it is because we need approval from others. God wants us to remove the bitter root of judgment from our lives. We can get drunk on patriotism. One of Pastor Fortes’ strongest prayer warriors was a former Muslim who converted. When she went back home, she prayed and blind people received their sight. God is good and seeks to reach all people.
Christians need approval, and they will go to great lengths to conform. Pastor Forte speaks about being a Baptiscostal. He would go to the Baptist church in the morning for his father and the Pentecostal church in the evening for his mother. Very different types of activities occurred and he had to adjust his behavior depending on the church he was attending.
Teenage girls will often have sex with boys prior to marriage because they are seeking approval not just from the boy but from girl friends who feel she should go with rich so and so, prestigious so and so, or that someone was prophesied to become a pastor, so sleep with him to become his wife. A lot goes on during youth camp and vacation Bible school. The Catholics are not the only ones with sexual sin in the church, so do the Protestants.
There is evil stuff in the world. The enemy wants us to miss the call of God on our life because of distraction or fear. We can miss the call of God because we are afraid of losing the approval of man.
Jesus had to deal with this. Jesus was told by the Holy Spirit to go to Samaria, where he sat by a well. He told his disciples to go and get food, for he knew that they would not be able to understand the nature of the divine appointment he had, they would flap their mouths wondering why a Jewish male was talking to a Samaritan woman. Some Holy Ghost assignments are solo. Sometimes a woman with issues needs to talk with a man, sometimes a man with a woman. We need to obey the Holy Spirit, and be led by God in this. The woman came and Jesus had a conversation with her. When the topic got too close to her sensitive area she turned to classism and racism by asking Jesus why he, a Jew was speaking to a Samaritan. This woman was coming to the well at this time of the day because she was avoiding the looks and comments of the other women because of her marital status.
Pastor Forte told us that we are not an event, but a person beloved by God. Just because we have lived a former sinful life, or have been raped, molested, divorced, had a child out of wedlock does not mean that God does not have a purpose or plan for your life. He can get you out of stuff, and take these events and turn them to a good end. Scriptures tell us that the hearts of the fathers will turn to the children.
Our Daddy God sees us as pretty and sweet. He gives seed to the sower, but what you do with the seed is up to you. If Dad gives you seed He expects you to sow it. The woman at the well, after Jesus told her about herself tells Jesus, “I perceive you are a prophet.” Jesus told her she had relationships with six men. Now she was in the presence of the SEVENTH MAN (Jesus), and this relationship would change her life. The world looked at this woman as a sinner, but Jesus saw a city-wide evangelist.
Jesus looked at her and saw her destiny, not her past. Jesus looks at what you ARE, not what you DO.
Pastor Forte is surprised that, given the wonderful freedom life in Christ provides us, that we aren’t more drawn to intercessory prayer, and that it is hard for churches to keep prayer groups going.
Our need for approval keeps us seeking for approval from wrong places. When we are asked to compromise in our quest for approval we don’t have to give into it. It is a wonderful cycle of blessing that God provides for us. He blesses us and we then turn to praise God for the blessings He has given us, which He then praises us for blessing Him. How awesome what God has provided for us.
We can stop struggling and being driven by our need for approval because God approves of us and loves us
Sometimes our tough situations are given to us by God because He knows we can handle them and turn them around to His glory. For example, Mary was given Jesus by being impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Some in her world would have scorned the explanation that it was the Holy Ghost that gave her Jesus. In today’s church the woman would be brought to a room with the other sisters and asked to tell the truth about who made her pregnant – they wouldn’t believe the Holy Ghost did it. Joseph would be confronted by the brothers to make an honest confession of how he got Mary pregnant. Yet Mary told the truth. God brought Mary to Elizabeth, who was in a similar situation of a supernatural pregnancy so that they could support and comfort each other. God will always provide someone in a similar situation to help us in the midst of our trials.
We are never alone or the ONLY ONE to go through a trial. God will provide someone to help us through the situation.
YOU ARE NOT AN EVENT, YOU ARE PRE-APPROVED. God planned your life before you were born. Approval comes because of God, and He will position us for a purpose. Remember God sees you as fulfilling your purpose, not as you are now.
Pastor Forte then asked all the visiting pastors to go to the altar area, and the pastors were each to speak a blessing over every person in the congregation – in this receiving line, we received many blessings – were told that God loves us, that we are approved by God, beautiful in His eyes, blessed, etc. The pastors represented our earthly fathers who may not have spoken such words of affirmation over us. We all needed to hear these statements, and there were few dry eyes after hearing God’s affirmations.
Praying your day is blessed. Tonight Pastor Forte is ministering again, if you can I suggest you attend.
God bless you,
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