God In My Own Image
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NLT)
When my daughters were young, I would read Bible stories to them and we would discuss them. There was one story in particular they both considered to be hilarious. When God gave Moses the ten commandments, and Moses came down from the mountain—after being gone for quite some time—he found the Israelites worshipping a golden calf.
This is how the conversation between Moses and Aaron went:
He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”
“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:21-24)
My girls were amazed at how Aaron could even say such a thing with a straight face. The fact that a grown man would say he threw gold into a fire and out came a calf amazed them. How ridiculous!
We think about this Bible story and wonder how Aaron could have dared to fashion an idol in the image of a calf, build an altar in front of it, and lead the people to present sacrifices to it. The thought is utterly absurd, especially when you take into consideration all the things God had done for them already.
I used to think if I had been there and actually saw God part the Red Sea, I would never doubt His existence ever again. So how could the Israelites see such miracles and then make a golden idol and worship it?
The sad—and scary—fact is many of us do the same thing. We may not physically fashion an idol with our hands, but we sure do try to make God fit into our molds of how we think He thinks, and what He considers sin to be. We have forgotten that He created us in His image and not the other way around.
This is why we must continually read the Holy Bible and remind ourselves of what God is really like. He has given us a clear picture of His character, His power, His Sovereignty and most of all His holiness. However, when those qualities don’t exactly line up with our fleshly desires, we tend to soften His edges and like putty in our hands squeeze Him into the molds of our ideas, traditions—or false interpretations—of what His Word says.
I recently posted a blog entitled, “Brace Yourselves,” in which I shared what I sensed the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. There was an overwhelming amount of positive responses and I give all the glory to God for that. However, one lady made a not so nice comment and it totally took me aback.
Quoting part of what I said in the blog she commented, “‘I am not playing games’... lol! We need to stop making God into our own image with our own vernacular.”
At first it upset me, but then I wondered what does she think the voice of the Holy Spirit sounds like? Does He only speak King James English? No, He does not. He speaks our language. He is a translator between God and man, so of course He speaks to us in words we can comprehend.
However, in her mind, God could only speak a certain way. But, why would the Holy Spirit only speak in King James English, especially since Jesus didn’t speak King James English Himself when He physically walked the earth? We can be sure that God never changes, but His voice is clear to all.
To say God couldn’t speak in our vernacular would also mean He can’t speak Spanish, Chinese, Russian or any other foreign language simply because we can only hear His voice in King James English, or any other way we have imagined Him to speak. So, how does He communicate with other parts of the world?
This is just one example of making God fit our traditional views of Him. Another example would be limiting our praises to only hymns, and vilifying contemporary songs of worship. Some presume to accept a God Who only likes hymns, and despises other songs of worship based on how they view Him. (i.e., If our taste is more suited to songs in hymnals, then God certainly must prefer hymns also.) We can become a stumbling block to others when we try to make God fit into our traditions.
Unfortunately some churches have created a God who approves of sins such as lying, stealing, cheating, and homosexual lifestyles. Their image of God condones and approves of fornication, people shacking up before marriage, abortion, and a God that has totally forgotten how many genders He created. This is almost as absurd as the calf coming out of the fire.
Sometimes people want to try to soften the blow when it comes to the Word of God and His absolute Truth simply to justify their fleshly desires. But we cannot change a God who has absolutely stated that He never changes. If we change our minds about Him we are guilty of creating and worshipping an idol—a God in our own idea or image of Him.
We simply cannot bring God down to our own standards. His Holy Word is the Standard we must live up to. There is no other way to live a life dedicated to Him. God has called us to be a Holy people striving every day to be transformed to His image, and not to be conformed to the image and morals of the world.
Anything we put before God is an idol whether that may be our preferences, our desires, an individual we admire, a hobby, sport or other interest. Not to say we can’t enjoy those things, but if they come between us and God—and if our focus is fixed on those things rather than God—it is an idol. We must continually watch for idols that sneak into our lives.
To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to desire to be more like Him and not to replace Him, or try to change Him to fit our tastes.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
(Colossians 3:1-5 ESV)
So many times we feel like we are racing to fulfill the dreams God has given us. We know what God has promised us, and we know He is Faithful, but we fail to recognize the miracles during the journey! If you are discouraged and tired of waiting because you haven't seen your promise come to life, release it. Don't give up on it, but release it to God's hand and His timing. Pay attention to the miracles on the journey. The valleys prepare us and give us the strength and the "right attitude" to stand on the mountains.
Nonetheless, waiting is extremely difficult. And sometimes it seems even when we are gaining momentum on our journey we can hit a brick wall and come to a complete stop. The sudden stop can be jolting, but it doesn’t mean the journey has ended. Here are a few ways to enjoy your journey as well as the pit stops!
First of all we need to remember, when God calls us to do something for Him, or places a dream in our hearts, it might not come to pass immediately. We can save ourselves a lot of frustration if we understand the appointing doesn’t always occur at the time of the anointing—or calling. Think about David. He was anointed as King when he was just a boy, but it was years later before he was appointed as King.
God doesn’t do this to frustrate us, but to encourage us to draw closer to Him and prepare for the task He has assigned us. Its like a roll of film. If it is exposed to the light before it is developed, the film is ruined. There is joy in the development phase even if we don’t recognize it immediately. Looking back now, I can see all the things God used to prepare me for ministry. At the time I didn’t realize it was Him preparing me because it was enjoyable. Look for joy in the small, but necessary training assignments! We have to remember we are also being developed, and God will let us know when its time to move into our appointed place. His timing is perfect!
Secondly, we need to understand that just because God has revealed our calling to us, He hasn’t necessarily revealed it to others yet. If you are like me, I felt it would take a lifetime to get speaking engagements. I became so frustrated because I knew God had a message for me to share, but I had nowhere to share it. No one had ever heard of me and so doors were completely closed to me.
I did everything to get invitations to speak. I sent out emails to pastors. I sent postcards and brochures to pastors telling them about my ministry. And guess what? Nothing happened. Out of 200 emails sent, I received maybe three or four replies, and they replied to say, “Maybe we can schedule something in the future.” I never heard from them again. It was hard. I was hurt, I was confused, and I even doubted my calling.
That’s when God said, “Stop! You have been trying to do it your way. When you let go, and quit striving to make things happen, I will open the right doors for you.” It was so hard to release it to Him. I felt I should be doing more to become noticed. When I finally stopped trying to get speaking engagements, I started getting invitations. Oddly enough, none of those invitations came from any of the churches I had contacted.
God knew which doors were the RIGHT doors, and great things happened in those churches and venues! Talk about miracles—God opened doors that I would never have dared to knock on in the first place! But, if I hadn’t released my desires to Him, I would probably still be sending out emails and waiting.
Thirdly, and probably the hardest to deal with is the sudden stop! This one has been particularly hard for me. Ministry came to a grinding halt when Covid-19 came on the scene. I can no longer go into the jails and prisons to minister. All of my speaking engagements were cancelled starting with Fiji, and trickling down to the very last venue.
It is devastating. I can’t even pray for people in Walmart because of social distancing! It has been one of the hardest things to endure. When you are an evangelist, and you can’t evangelize, you feel as if the air has been sucked out of your lungs. So, I’ve had to wait for Covid to dissipate and hope that doors will open again.
But there is still joy in the journey. It has helped me to become more creative in the ways I minister. I have shared messages online. I have spoken on Facebook Live for church services, and Teen Challenge, and I’ve been interviewed multiple times for podcasts, and other shows.
AND, I’ve used this time to examine my own heart and draw closer to God. My time with the Holy Spirit has been so sweet, and has enriched my life in ways I didn’t think possible. As I have prayed in the Spirit, I have felt absolutely sure that whatever comes my way, God has got me. I don’t have to fear the future, and I can expect to hear His voice when I pray—such sweet communion.
It might not be my ideal way to minister, but unfortunately times have changed. Ultimately, God is in control, and I know as I continue to draw close to Him, He will continue to make a way for me. And He will continue to make a way for you as long as you trust Him with your journey!
Even though I’m not a prophet—and I have stated that many times—I think I finally might have an inkling of how Jonah must have felt. Go with me for a minute.
Many of you know that I wrote a blog on June 15th, 2020 entitled, “Brace Yourselves.” I shared what I truly believe God spoke to me in that post. A little over a week later, a friend brought to my attention that another Assemblies of God pastor in Kentucky—Dana Coverstone—had shared some prophetic dreams He felt God had given him in a video.
She sent me the video, and when I watched it my jaw dropped as he repeated the same words “brace yourself!” I’m sure at this point, many of you have seen that video which has now gone viral. I didn’t know Pastor Coverstone, and he does not know me. To be honest, that was the first time I had ever heard of him.
Since then, I have seen multitudes of people going online posting response videos to his. My own website has been flooded with web traffic because of the similar message--brace yourselves. I have had many encouraging responses, some not so much. I can’t begin to imagine what has been said to Pastor Dana himself, but I wanted to jump on and share my two cents based on some of the videos I’ve seen circulating.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t trust him because he’s just some pastor no one has ever heard of. They say he’s not a “well-known, or trusted prophet.” “Maybe if he was a seasoned prophet, or if he had sought the council of other well-known prophets first, he might be more reliable.”
Others say his video instills fear and leaves people with a feeling hopelessness. There have been well-known ministers who call themselves prophets with large followings that have also posted fiery rebuking videos toward Pastor Dana. Some have even gone as far as to call him a false prophet!
Still some people have said his video should have been an edifying and encouraging word, and “it should uplift you and make you, ‘feel good,’ if it is truly from God.” I could go on and on about all the responses this pastor has evoked because he shared a dream he felt that God gave him.
Not once did I hear Pastor Dana call himself a prophet. I didn’t hear him say, “The Lord said…” I saw a man who simply and humbly shared his dream. He did not ask anyone to evaluate it, or break it down or to rip it apart as it has been. He didn’t ask anyone for their opinion or tell anyone to share his video. But, many people did. Wonder why? Was it because he is a false prophet?
What was it in his message, that would cause someone to fall away from God? What Scripture did he twist to fit his agenda? If compared to the prophets of the Old Testament, was it more harsh than anything Isaiah, or Jeremiah said to the people of God?
Many of the things Pastor Dana said, bore witness with my Spirit. I might not agree with every word he said, but I will ponder these things in my heart. The test of a prophet is to see if these things come to pass. But, then we face another question.
Can or will God change His mind?
When God gives someone a word of warning, a message, a dream or even a vision to warn His people, there are few messengers who are jumping up and down to share it. It’s not a joy to be the bearer of bad news.
Take Jonah for instance. When God gave him a “not so happy,” message for Nineveh, the last thing Jonah wanted to do was hop the next ship for Nineveh with a bull horn. No, he hopped a ship for Tarshish to get away. Not only did he not want to warn the people of God’s impending judgment on them if they didn’t change their ways, we read later that He knew that God might even change His mind and not do what He had told Jonah to warn them about.
And guess what, that is exactly what God did. When the people repented, and urgently called upon God and gave up their evil ways—God relented. And Jonah was upset.
“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1-3 NIV)
I have heard a lot of self-proclaimed prophets who are glad to hop online and share a good happy feel good message. Many feel safe and comfortable preaching peace and prosperity, but it’s not exactly fun to share the opposite. And, they tend to get upset when someone else shares a message that might contradict their happy message.
Anyone who has a good knowledge of the Bible knows that God does indeed warn His children. We also know that God can change His mind. We love to quote the verse:
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
We also know that Abraham was able to convince God to change His mind and spare Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
So, here are my thoughts. You can throw them out the window if you want. Warnings serve to save and protect us. They cause us to draw closer to God, to ask for mercy, and repent from our ways. If Pastor Dana, or I am wrong in what we feel God is sharing, time will tell. Is it going to hurt you if you dedicate more time to seeking God’s face? Will it cause you any harm?
We know that if we are living for God, and serving Him with our whole hearts, there is no need for fear. God hasn’t given us a Spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV) And, we also know Whom we have believed in and He is able to keep that which we have committed against that day. We can trust in Him.
But, if no one sounds the alarm many could be lost. I will re-iterate the fact that neither of us—Pastor Dana or myself—have called ourselves prophets. I can’t speak for Pastor Dana, but as for myself, I felt an urgency to share what God had shared with me. But, I was extremely cautious, and I prayed fervently before sharing it because it's not popular to share these kinds of messages. But, what if this warning is the spark that brings people to pray like never before and in turn brings revival?
Because, I don't know about you, but I DO want to see repentance. I want to see revival, and I want to see everything good that God has promised us for these last days to come to pass. I want everyone to know the peace and love of a Perfect Heavenly Father Who sent His own Son to lay down His life so that we could be with Him forever in eternity.
I don’t want anyone to perish. If we love like Jesus, our messages will not always be happy feel good messages. But they will stir us, and cause us to seek the face of God so we can be ready when He returns for His bride. Please don’t shoot the messenger just because they may not look the part, or sound like a professional prophet. And certainly, let us not rip each other to shreds when we need to stand together like never before.
But, pray and test all things.
Once again, I share this passage with you:
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-20 NIV)
The Sleeping Giant
This morning as I was praying, I felt like God showed me something. I have never had a vision—that I can recall—and I wouldn’t say this was a vision but more of a mental image. Once again, I’m not claiming to be a prophet, but these things are coming to me more and more urgently and frequently in the Spirit. So, I ask you to pray yourselves and see what you feel the Spirit is speaking to your heart.
This morning I had a mental image of a huge sleeping giant. It made me think of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. As the giant slept, I saw small groups of tiny people running around with ropes and chains and securing the giant to the ground until he was completely immobile.
He was still asleep, so he didn’t notice. But, slowly different parts of his body began to awaken. He began to notice he couldn’t move his leg, then his arm, and so on and so on. Though he was still asleep he began to become subconsciously aware of the resistance in his limbs and other body parts.
I believe the Spirit spoke to me and said the giant represented the church worldwide. We have been complacent for so long that issues such as homosexuality, adultery, abortion, hate, deception, twisted truths, normalization of sin and more have crept in and tied us down. The remnant has been struggling to get free, but the resistance has felt unsurmountable.
Discouragement has crept in because voices that have been faithful to speak truth have been disregarded, their churches poorly attended and ignored, while churches who preach prosperity and sugar coated sermons have been praised and have thrived. Many of the body parts are tired, and feel weak and helpless.
Next I heard a sound so loud it startled the sleeping giant, and finally woke him from his slumber. At this he jumped up breaking all the ropes and chains. As I pondered this, I believe God was showing me that something big was going to happen that would finally shake and wake the sleeping church. When the church awakens, it will be called to true repentance, break free and come up from the ground.
There was great celebrating as the giant began to dance around in freedom, and as some of the tiny people began to bow down, others began to run and hide. I believe this signifies the revival that will come when the church awakens and gets things right with God.
We will see repentance come first to the house of the Lord, and with repentance we will see revival as God moves in power bringing salvation to the lost. That is what revival is all about.
"Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God." (Revelation 3:2 ESV)
Also see "Brace Yourselves," my blog post from June 15th.
Would it make sense to mix together all the ingredients for a cake but never put it in the oven? Or, how about planting a huge garden and caring for it daily, but never picking any of its produce? Wouldn’t it be odd to buy a boat, but never put it in water?
These things all sound pretty absurd don’t they? But, we as Christians often do the same thing. Have you known of those who have given their hearts to Christ, but cease to seek His will or follow Him in His plans for their lives? I think we can all think of someone who has done that, and we may even be guilty of it ourselves.
We can’t just stop at salvation. That’s where our journey begins. God has given so many gifts to His children, and we would be missing out on so much if we stopped short. This is why I often emphasize being baptized in the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues. We need the empowerment, and boldness the Holy Spirit brings to our lives. He also opens the door to other Spiritual gifts in our lives.
Today more than ever we need His power and boldness to do all God has called us to do. And, we need every Spiritual gift God is willing to give us to minister to the needs of others. My life has been significantly changed and enriched by the Holy Spirit.
I remember what my life was like before I answered God’s call, and He set me apart to do the things He called me to do. I thought I was happy going through the motions—church on Sunday, church on Wednesday and little interaction with God in the space between—except for when I needed or wanted something.
I was more caught up in earthly things than the purpose God had handcrafted for my life. But, when I decided to surrender everything to God and allow Him to take absolute control, things changed. I didn’t view life through the same lens.
Its like the old chorus we used to sing:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full into His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His mercy and grace
When we decide to go ALL IN for Jesus, the things of this world have less impact on us. We are aware of God’s goodness, His mercy, and His power. The cares of this life fall to the wayside when we realize He is a Good Father, and His plans for us are GOOD, and exciting!
We don’t have to fear bad reports. We can rest in knowing that whatever comes, we are in His hands, and in His care.
When we go all in, we begin to see Him move in our lives and in our situations. The miraculous comes near. The truth rises up within us, and we can easily accept that the same power that raised Christ from the dead LIVES IN US. The Words of the Bible take hold in a powerful way, and we start to believe we can really DO what God says we can do.
There is nothing on earth more exciting, fulfilling, and miraculous than walking in the complete will of God. Life becomes so amazing that we can’t wait for each new day to see what Jesus is going to do next. It is such an adventure. But until we are willing to go ALL IN, we will miss the exciting adventures God has planned for us.
Are you living all in for Jesus today? If not, what’s holding you back? I encourage you to surrender all to Him and seek Him like never before. Your life will be so much more worth living!
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT)
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.