What is the Author’s Intended Meaning?

What is the Author's Intended Meaning?

A.I.M. and Why It Matters

When we open our Bibles, we can go in several different directions when it comes to interpretation. We ask ourselves, “How do I feel in this moment while reading this? How do I WANT it to make me feel… Does this relate to what I learned on the flannelgraph in Sunday School? How can I relate this to my current life?”

 

However, the text in front of us could be interpreted as literal… figurative… narrative… prophecy… so, the odds of us landing on a similar genre across several different books are pretty slim. The problem I see across the board is when people open up their Bible to read- they immediately ask themselves after reading, “What does this mean to me?”

 

Honestly? I don’t care what it means to you.

And I’m not trying to be mean- and here’s why.

My major issue? You weren’t the original audience for this book. No offense.

Books are written for specific audiences. And it’s pretty slim that you fit into that original audience. I mean, there aren’t alot of us who are from first century Israel… or earlier. If we don’t understand who the author was, where they were from or who they were writing to- we won’t understand the main depth to the message. We will only glean surface level information. If we are reading something and only applying it to our lives - we are missing the point. The message- the impact- the TRUTH. That life-changing “AHA” moment or epiphany you are looking for as a reader. Not to mention, if we miss his point,one could argue that he just wasted his time trying to get his message across. What a shame.

 

A Quick Exercise on the Importance of A.I.M.

 

As readers, we need to give author’s the credit they deserve. For example, read the statement to the right. 

 

Now, if we understand the speaker of the text to be a woman carrying out a birthday cake to the awaiting party guests in the backyard… it’s a happy scene.  But, if we understand the narrator to be a man who is intent on killing a family inside the house? Awful, horrific scene. Knowing the author’s intended meaning is HUGELY important.

 

A.I.M. Exercise

“I slid through the french doors, carrying what would indefinitely bring an end to the night.”

Get Rid of Preconceived Ideas

Every author has a purpose and message that they are trying to communicate. When I took a class on writing this past winter, one of the first things I learned was to ask myself, “Who is your audience? Who is the ‘person’ you’re writing to?” Without this- authors have no purpose or message to get out. 

 

When we layer our theology or beliefs about the world upon the words in the Bible as we read, we are missing a huge part of the message. (Or most of it… if we’re being really honest with ourselves.) Since we are not from the first century, how do we go about even determining what the author was trying to communicate to his audience? What was his main message?

 

When we seek to find out the Author’s Intended Meaning, we must put aside our cultural, emotional, personal, historical and denominational beliefs. Read in more detail here in this post. That means, if we think we know what the author is trying to say (maybe due to something we heard from a Sunday School teacher back in the day) then we may lose his actual meaning.

 

Do something quick for me. Try to determine the author’s intended meaning in Matthew 19:26. It’s a verse that’s largely taken out of context by our generation… and therefore, the author’s message is lost. (Find out my thoughts in my next post, “What’s the Deal with Context?”)

 

At the end of the day, we need to focus on the author’s intended meaning/message above all else. If not… are we even giving him the credit? And that’s a true shame.

 

Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

Before Opening Your Bible

Before Opening Your Bible

Tips on How To Begin Reading Your Bible

Here's the thing I believe is the downfall to most Bible reading. 

People... JUST... START... READING. 

And that works for the most part. Until you run into something that doesn't make sense... or seems to contradict something else you read... or makes you question everything you thought you knew about our Creator.

The more I understand and study this crazy, intense and intentionally designed book, the more I'm blown away. 

Here's a couple of things that will set you up to be more interpretative of the text, rather than just taking it at face-value.

1- Start Fresh.

We don't realize that when we sit down to read anything (even news articles or Facebook posts) we come PRELOADED with ideas, thoughts or past experiences that color the way we understand things. This is non-disputed science. In fact, our beliefs and how we perceive things are hardwired into our brains and are hard to change. If we cannot push aside these preconceived ideas, we will never see the text as it was intended to be read. 

Try to focus on reading with fresh eyes. If you've heard about a scripture that’s been used over and over, you may think you understand the meaning- but, hold that thought. You may be surprised to find out that what you thought it meant, may not mean what the author intended the text to be understood as. Be willing to have your perspective shift when you open your Bible; don't try and read Scripture to prove your point. Decide now to read Scripture to learn more about who your God is.

2- Find a Translation You Understand

I remember the first time I read another translation other than the NIV (New International Version.) My parents bought me a Student Bible as a teenage, and it was the NLT (New Living Translation). It was a GAME-CHANGER for me. Where once I had thought of the Bible  as boring, was now talking to me in a slightly different way. Just enough to grab and hold my attention. Not only that, but it was full of notes in the margins and even sidenotes in the text filling in history, culture or parallel passages to help me fill in the blanks.

Okay… so, when you begin looking into different translations or versions of the Bible, you may become overwhelmed. (There are a TON out there...). Fret not!  I can give you a couple of options that will help you determine the route to go. 

Difference Between Translations and Versions

Here's the first thing you must understand: the Bible was written in several languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). The first translation into English was by John Wycliff in 1382 (over 500 years before I was born!) Can you imagine that moment though? To read about the Savior in your own language? And this is still going on around the world today. (Check out Pioneer Bible Translators and Wycliff Bible Translators!)

When something is translated into another language, it can be generally translated "word for word" or "thought for thought". On the arrow below... there are versions that are almost word for word what is in the original text... and translations that take what is the in the original text and try to match the thought, voice or emotion of the text. 

I honestly prefer having several different versions/translations open when I'm intently studying a passage. But when I'm just wanting to lean into the words and allow them to speak to me? I choose a translation that has emotion and tone built into the words. It seems to bring them to life for me. One amazing resource is the YouVersion Bible app. You can jump between translations with just a click. 

 A couple of translations/versions that I recommend? If you're leaning toward the "word for word" versions, pick up the NASB (New American Standard Bible) or the ESV (English Standard Version.) For the middle of the road? Definitely, the NIV (New International Version.). If you're wanting to aim towards finding a translation that tries to capture the original author's thought? Then reach for the NLT, (New Living Translation.) When I'm helping someone determine which version they prefer, the NLT is usually the one that they land on. It's a very clean and understandable translation and reads in contemporary English.   

Recently, a friend introduced me to a new translation that is still being written. It's called The Passion Translation and according to their website,  "is a new, heart-level translation, using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts, that expresses God’s fiery heart of love to this generation, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word." Right now, the New Testament, as well as Psalm, Proverbs, Isaiah and Genesis, are finished and you can purchase some of them together or separately.     

What I love about this new translation is the fact that almost HALF of each page is FOOTNOTES. Being as I'm a huge nerd, the more notes, the better. Ha! The notes here are chock full of original language insight and cultural/historical insight. And it is full of emotion and poetry that I've never picked up in any other translation or version. Below is a graphic comparing several translations and versions of the same verse. Notice their differences and similarities!

Whatever version or translation you decide upon, get ready to have the lights come on in a way that you've never seen before. Imagery will come alive and stories will dance off the page.   

 

3- Start a Little Digging.   

Okay, now you're thinking... wait- research?  It's a lot simpler than it sounds. 

Before you begin reading, you need to understand what the author was trying to communicate. So, start by looking at the culture, time period, history of the area, and the people involved (author, audience and bystanders.) This kind of information is easily found sometimes in the Bible you're holding (look in the footnotes or in the introduction section of each book of the Bible.) If your Bible doesn't have these options, it may be wise to invest in one. I've bought several study Bibles from christianbook.com. Having these kinds of options can help you to immediately bring the story to life.  

When you finally sit down to actually read the passage, try to imagine yourself as one of the original people that it was written to. How would they have felt to read the passage for the first time? Would they have known the author? Would they have met Jesus? Putting yourself in their "sandals" will more than likely help you to determine what the author of the book was trying to communicate in these exact passages.

If you can nail down what the audience would have felt, you're more likely to begin to understand where the author was coming from. Was the author describing a historical timeline? Were they trying to guide the audience into knowing how to share about the Kingdom?

 

And now? You're ready to open your Bible...

Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children's director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, "You are making all things new..." And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog's Day... over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I've seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning... I could just be... and listen... and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here's the conclusion I've come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I've found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I've been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I've been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I've been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I've been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I've watched my kids settle in and just be... without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I've been able to see all of my church family's faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I've watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It's not the same... we can't meet together collectively. It's not normal... we aren't allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It's not even similar... we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here's the thing... we are meeting separately... but we are together in spirit.

We've got to let go our our stubbornness... our resentment for how things were handled... our need to want things our way... and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday's after Jesus' death. We find the disciples and Jesus's followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem... hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he's a ghost. They can't even believe he's back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming... didn't.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they'd been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom... and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

"Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here's what's crazy about us humans: we think we're soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who's to say we wouldn't have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I'm seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn't have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn't normal. The Kingdom is here... do you feel it?

The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

Called Out.

Called Out.

There's an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and it seems so elusive at times I can hardly put my finger on it. 

  • It comes with a friend bailing on you because another bigger, better party (or nap opportunity) came up. 
  • It comes when marriages break into a million little pieces and call everyone into question that surrounds the broken relationship.
  • It comes when families no longer understand the value of trust and giving without asking for payback.
  • It comes when someone stops shopping at the Mom&Pop shop because a new and better store came into town. 
  • It comes when a friend continues to ghost you and not call, text, or message back with no apology. Even months later. 
  • It comes when a family leaves your church because it's not filling their own needs.

What is this thing that has emerged in our personal thoughts, families, lifestyles, relationships, marriages, and now churches? 

Disloyalty.

Some would call it a lack of commitment. But where did the previous commitment go? Was it even really there in the first place? As I look back at our nation's history... I see a trail of disloyalty within the church. Churches splitting... new denominations created... competitions growing amidst congregations.

Since planting a church, a whole new level of disloyalty has emerged. And this one... scares me.

As I've poured thru scripture, my understanding of what Jesus called the church to, was mostly incorrect. (Here's a hint... the church was called to be a Kingdom.) A paragraph in the 2nd chapter of Acts continues to haunt me as I learn more and more about the Kingdom of God.

Acts 2:42-47 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Community of Believers

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it's because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

I don't believe we are called just to gather to have our needs filled. (Gasp!) If we are only looking to love ourselves... then we will attend a church if they provide: an excellent and entertaining kids' ministry; an uplifting and rocking praise and worship service; bible studies with popular teachers that draw crowds; and a preacher who is funny, yet serious, yet knows his Bible in the original languages and can relate to everyone he comes in contact with.

Honestly, looking at that last statement takes my breath away... and not in a good way. Like someone punched me in the throat kind of way. People are openly choosing to be disloyal to the Kingdom of God... over and over and over.

Commitment Issues

They choose their comfort over maturing spiritually. (It's not easy.) They decide to point fingers of judgment towards others instead of just loving them. They choose to sleep in, instead of investing in those that God has called us to love upon. They decide to leave a church behind without even a word because they weren't given the proper "acknowledgment" that they thought they deserved. They choose to forgo building relationships with friends in the church because it gets real... quick. They prefer to gossip and divide the Kingdom openly with harsh words about others.

That's not right. That's not what Jesus came to establish.

I'm humbled by the simple fact that God has allowed my husband and I to be a part of such a loving and grace-filled community during the last six years. But I hurt when I see people choose to be disloyal to the church over and over and over... and not just our church. All churches, nationwide. 

There seems to be a fear of telling the truth to those we need to be honest with... but more importantly, a fear of telling the truth to ourselves.

We need to ask ourselves... what do we really want?

To be a part of the Kingdom? Because that, people, demands loyalty.

3 Pieces of Advice for Future Church Planter’s Wives

3 Pieces of Advice for Future Church Planter’s Wives

As we have planted, I've had many prospective church plant women approach me asking for advice. "What do I need to know or anticipate with church planting?" "What should I do to prepare for church planting?" This question was always hard to answer. Since I'm a person who needs to process things over time (to make sure I communicate what I'm thinking clearly), it took me awhile to fully understand what they were even asking me. When I gave answers at first, like: "It's nothing like working in an established ministry..." "It will exhaust you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically..." "You spend most of your time on your knees in battle..."- it didn't seem to alleviate the stress in their eyes. So, I'm going to begin to compile a list of things that take precedent in your new world of church planting. Some of the things I offer, people will look at as trivial. Or too easy to say. And honestly, I don't care. After almost 5 years in the church planting world, these are things that I have found make our world easier. I have not listed them in order of importance, just as they come to me. (Because that, my friend, is how my brain works.  Slow processor-- remember?)

#1 Keep your focus WIDE

When you become so hyper-focused on one thing within the church plant, you will miss the small details that can cause trouble down the road.  As a supportive wife to your planter husband, make sure you pay attention to small details that he may miss.  If the Holy Spirit brings to your attention something that may seem trivial at the time, but could eventually blow up out of proportion, tell him immediately. For example:
  • You notice the hard line of a man's face and his condescending tone about something awry in the church... weeks later, he and his family ghost on your texts and voice mails and stop attending.
  • More and more problems with leadership within a ministry seem to be being brought to the surface. Red flags... if you will.
  • A family begins to pull away from you and circle their wagons with other families in the church. There is no disdain, only whispers of gossip from within the circle.
  • Two women clash. Their resentment of each others begins to affect their families and then, their friend circles.
  • One ministry is struggling, while another is flourishing.
  • The amount of events are killing your volunteers' aptitudes and attitudes towards ministry.
When your vision stays WIDE, you will begin to see how God is molding the plant into His Vision for it. If you have tunnel-vision, you may be a good ministry leader, but you will not be a good church planter.  Make sure that as leaders you notice those small details that can bring a church down. Constantly be scanning for problems as you move ahead towards the future. All good entrepreneurs are always looking to the future. Be present in your present, but be looking ahead to where God has gone ahead of you.

#2 Don't you dare gossip to anyone about people. Anyone.

Sorry for the super harsh vocabulary- but this one gets me frustrated. We should never open our mouth to gossip or speak unkindly of others within the walls of our church, as well as outside the walls of our church. I am guilty of this. And it does not end well. God will hold out on his blessings for you and it always affects your church... and ultimately the Kingdom. So, please, I beg you for the sake of the Kingdom- keep your tongue silent. You may think that you have that one girlfriend who wouldn't ever pass the gossip on. But guess what- it will color how she views what you are griping about. She will start to watch that person/ministry more closely and have more things to add to your fire. And when that happens?  Not good... Also, don't tell me that you just share "concerns" or "prayer requests" when you just want to "talk" and make someone else look pathetic... or make yourself look better.  Get over yourself. If you truly want to help someone out by asking for prayer for them, go to the source and ask permission. Then ask what they want to be shared. Be respectful of their privacy.

#3 Don't criticize other church planters or ministers in established churches.

We are all in this Kingdom-Building together. If we continue to pick apart other ministries, we are literally picking fights with our own calvary. Come on, people. It seems ridiculous right? But it happens.  So put an end to it, starting in your own church. And squash it when it happens. I mean, other churches are still the Bride of Christ... no matter how tarnished. Christ still loves and died for them. Let's instead learn to pray for each other as churches, instead of compete, gossip and tear down other Brides that God loves.