“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
NO PETS ALLOWED, by Randall D. Kittle

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While I was praying, the Lord showed me the outside of a church building. It looked like a great crowd was gathering. People were everywhere: filling the parking lot, covering the steps, and clogging the entrance. But no one was going in. What was really strange about this picture was that each person had an animal with them. Some were holding them, others were walking them on a leash, but every person had an animal. I then noticed there was a sign posted on the door of the entrance. Moving closer I could read the words on the sign which were printed in very large letters “NO PETS ALLOWED!” As I read the sign, I heard a loud and thundering voice proclaim: “It is time to leave your pets outside the Church — no pet wounds … no pet doctrines … no pet sins!”

Pet Wounds
The first of these pets the Lord wants removed from His Church are pet wounds. I have noticed a common theme in the lives of people who once had a strong walk with God and were being used by Him, but have suffered spiritual shipwreck to the point where they are no longer advancing God’s kingdom, some not even being a part of a body of believers. The one common theme I see in their lives is holding onto a pet wound.

Just last week I had lunch with a young man who asked forgiveness for not being engaged and obedient to the things he knows he is called to. He had been one who was always wanting to share with others about the Lord, always wanting to reach out and bring anyone and everyone to any church function. But for the last year this young man had been pretty much “missing in action.” As we talked, he shared how something had hurt him and he just didn't know how to re-engage … and he didn’t really want to. He now realized he had allowed his wound to derail him from the destiny God has for him.

Pet wounds are so devastating because they cause division and disunity in the body of Christ. Satan knows there is a commanded blessing from the Lord when believers dwell together in unity. So the enemy wants us to have pet wounds knowing they bring division.

Once while I was praying about this subject I saw a picture of a heart that had been wounded. Sticking out of the wounded heart was a crowbar, and written on it was the word “contention.” Like a crowbar, pet wounds pry apart those the Lord has put together. People who should be ministering together are separated. Believers who are called to be part of a church slowly get pried out, becoming ever more distant until they end up leaving. Pet wounds are the enemy’s number one weapon to destroy the unity that God has called us to. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 says
“be at peace among yourselves.” There is a unity in the body of Christ that is vitally important to fulfilling the calling God has on us corporately. Jesus not only prayed for it, He died to pay the price for it!

Pet wounds develop because we are hurt so deeply we cannot find a way to forgive those who wounded us. When we hold onto a hurt through unforgiveness it results in bitterness. This bitterness is because our hearts are filled with unfulfilled vengeance. As time goes on, this bitterness will yield discouragement and resentment. Nearly every time I have found a believer who is both discouraged and resentful it was because they embraced a spirit of woundedness.

Hebrews 12:15 warns us how dangerous bitter wounds can be. It says that we should be
“Looking diligently … lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and by this many become defiled.” The phrase “looking diligently” means “warning, danger, be on the lookout for this dangerous thing!” If we begin to protect ourselves when we have been wounded, we will shelter not only ourselves but our wound as well. A bitter soul is like a mother bear watching over her cubs. It makes a list of the hurts and slights inflicted upon it and guards them fiercely.

If you continue to embrace your pet wound through unforgiveness it will be more than protected, it will become precious to you. Soon you find a new and fitting identity. You are a victim. With this comes the “victim mentality.” “You don’t understand, Randy, how wrong that hurt was. I have a right to be hurt and offended,” and out pours a laundry list of each hurt, offense, and oversight. But in the kingdom of God you do not have a right to your wound. As a believer, you have surrendered all your rights to Jesus Christ. He has a right to all of your life, which leaves no room to be set aside for bitter wounds.

If you have a pet wound in your life, you are cooperating with a spirit of offense. “I have been offended.” You must either choose to be enabled by this spirit of offense, or choose to be empowered by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will always lead you to forgive and restore. While the spirit of offense can list every detail of your woundedness, the Spirit of God doesn't even keep a record.
“Love is patient … it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

What makes a pet wound even more devastating for a body of believers is that this spirit of offense works hand-in-hand with the accuser of the brethren. Whenever we share this wound with others, whether for prayer or by way of explanation, we are used by the enemy to bring accusation to the one who wounded us. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, but Jesus is the Excuser of the Brethren! He is the one who excuses and forgives, and we are called to be like Jesus.

We tend to defend ourselves, “I was innocently wounded.” But the truth is that only Jesus was innocently wounded. As the pure, spotless Lamb of God, He was
“wounded for our transgressions.” And while He was dying for those who were slaying Him, what did He say? “Father forgive them.” We need to be like Christ. It doesn’t matter what the wound is, we need to extend forgiveness.

We overcome our pet wound by forgiving those who have hurt us. The Bible tells us that God expects us to forgive those whom we have something against.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that you Father in Heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Note it says “If you have anything against anyone.” That is having an offense. And the Lord's expectation is that we will forgive anyone for anything. It doesn’t matter how deep the wound was, for God paid the price not just for our forgiveness, but for the forgiveness of others. Not only does God forgive us and others, He expects us to do the same. We need to forgive. We need to forget. We need to let go! Over the last few years, many have spent a great deal of time working on letting God out of the boxes of limitation they have put Him in. Today Jesus is saying “Do the same for My children. Let My people go!” We must now let others out of the box of unforgiveness we have held them in.

Pet Doctrines
The second pet the Lord wants removed from His Church are pet doctrines. While having biblical doctrine is good, the problem is we can become so excited about our doctrines that we begin to exalt them. When this happens, they can cause division and limitation. Divisions occur when we focus on our doctrines until they are so important that we become only comfortable with those who have similar ideology — those who think exactly like we do. The limitation happens because our doctrines become so well developed and so throughly defined that nothing outside our doctrine is believed to be correct or even tolerable — even when it is from God! Doctrines, and our understanding of them, can become so dear to us that we begin trusting them and find a false security in them. You are on the wrong path when you start placing your trust in doctrine, for it is dangerous to find security in anything other than Jesus Christ! If you let go of the “security blanket” of your pet doctrine, at first you will feel you have nothing left to hold onto, but there will be One thing which will remain … Jesus Christ. Doctrines will fail you, but Jesus never will. Only Jesus is truly worth holding onto so tightly that you will never let go. Anything else that begins to offer itself as something you can trust in is lifting itself up and becoming an idol. When doctrines begin to be reverenced and exalted, they are idols that deny the Lordship of Jesus.

Let me give you a personal example of how doctrines can become lifted up and limiting to the leadership and lordship of God. My home church has a strong emphasis on home groups (you may call these cell groups or small groups). We believe strongly in God's 20/20 vision for the Church. In Acts 20:20 Paul says
“I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” As the Church was first designed by the Lord, they met in larger meetings for corporate worship, instruction, and impartation; and also in homes which were settings more applicable for accountability, outreach, and the discovery and growth of spiritual gifts. This is how body life should be expressed. This is normal Christian church-life, and a core belief for our fellowship. A problem arose, however, when the Lord began leading us, through a number of prophetic dreams and visions, to ask a gifted and Godly man who was not part of any home group to become one of the elders. In our struggle with this decision, we discovered that we were limiting the leading of the Lord by the very doctrine He had given us. God was saying to us that the doctrine of body life expressed in home groups is a good doctrine and a fine conviction, as long as we don’t forget to let the Holy Spirit run things!

The enemy likes our pet doctrines because they limit God and divide the saints of God. I am surprised how often the Lord asks me to go beyond the doctrine He has helped me to develop — especially some of my “favorite pets.” Now this is not to say that doctrine is bad or useless, but it needs to be put in its place! The only cure for pet doctrines is to lay them down. We must sacrifice our “sacred cows” on God’s altar. “Lord God slay my sacred cow of pet doctrine so you have unlimited reign in my life.” You see, we can either hold firm to the leash of our pet doctrines or hold firmly to God. Let us choose the Lord.

Pet Sins
The third pet the Lord wants eliminated from His Church are pet sins. This is the most common of the three pets God wants removed from His house. Have you ever noticed that some pets become so familiar they are thought of as part of the family? A friend of mine who is an eye doctor has a patient with a pet like this. Whenever this older woman comes in to have her eyes examined, she carries in with her a little basket. Sticking its head out of the basket is a little dog named Snickers who is always wearing a scarf or sweater. She would never think of going anywhere without Snickers, because he is part of the family.

It is the same for some pet sins. Like a long time family pet they have been around so long that they seem to be just a part of us; maybe even considered by ourselves or others as a "quirk" in our personalities. These pet sins are familiar sins, those ones you are always entertaining — sins you repeatedly “struggle with.”

The first type of pet sin that comes to mind are sins of the flesh. These are sins that keep us from living a holy life — sins of lust, greed, jealousy, covetousness, etc. These sins have become pet sins for many because our society not only accepts them, it embraces and encourages them. They seem to pervade our entire culture. Even a generation ago these traits would have been seen at least as character flaws. But now they are considered standard operating procedure for Americans. But God has another standard — holiness. God is holy, and He expects us to be holy also. Although God is not waiting for us to be perfect before He will use us, He does want us to get rid of the obvious sin that is encumbering us. God expects nothing more, and He will accept nothing less!

Evil-Speaking
Another pet sin prevalent in the Church is evil-speaking. John Wesley defines it this way:
“Evil speaking is any unnecessary or uncomplimentary remarks made about anybody.” Sharing unnecessary things is called talebearing, and speaking negative, uncomplimentary things is called gossip.

The damage of evil-speaking is immense. The Bible tells us that gossip is so powerful that it
“separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). A. W. Tozer says that these sins are Satan’s most successful way of weakening and dividing a church. “The gossip and talebearer sometimes at conversion turn into a ‘spiritual counselor,’ but often a closer look will reveal the same restless, inquisitive spirit at work that made them a nuisance before their conversion. The whole thing has been refined and given a religious appearance, but actually nothing radical has happened. … This is Satan’s most successful way of getting into the church to cause weakness, backsliding, and division.”

Proverbs 11:13 says that
“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” It is not that we are to operate under a spirit of secrecy. We need to be open, to be willing to reveal to others things about ourselves. But we need to be cautious whenever we share about another. Unfortunately, what tends to happen in the body of Christ is that we are more than willing to share about others, but oh so slow to reveal the things hidden in our hearts. We need to be careful and cautious whenever we share about anyone else. We need to ask ourselves “What is the purpose for this discussion?” and “Am I having it with the right person?”

The most common excuse we use to keep the sin of evil speaking alive is prayer: “I am sharing so you’ll know how to pray.” I believe it is an abomination to God to blame prayer for our desire to share information … insight … gossip! This desire is inherent in our fallen nature. We enjoy sharing it, and it makes us feel important. We somehow feel we are blessing everyone with our special tidbit — our secret knowledge. Our hearts feel as if we are scattering pixie dust to bless everyone. But the truth is that no matter how we try to dress it up or disguise it, gossip and talebearing are not like spreading pixie dust, they are like spreading anthrax! They are a curse and not a blessing, for they bring death and not life.

Seeking The Approval Of Others
Another pet sin is seeking the approval of others. This is cooperating with a spirit of man-pleasing. The American society is built upon performance orientation, where doing a good job and receiving the approval of others is highly sought after and rewarded. When this spirit of man-pleasing gets a hold of our lives, we begin to seek after the approval of others.

Many of you recognized this sin operating in your life soon after you were born again, and you started to deal with it. The problem is that most of us do not remove the root of the problem. We simply trim off the bad fruit. We begin to edit down the list of those whose approval we seek. Soon we eliminate the approval of nonbelievers in our lives. If friends or family don’t approve of our new lives in Christ too bad for them! While it is good that we do not allow the disapproval of lost friends or co-workers from stopping our spiritual walk, we dare not grow comfortable thinking we have been set free from the sin of seeking the approval of others. Now instead of having twenty to fifty people whose approval we desire, our list is down to three or four — but the level of approval we need from them becomes very high. This only causes us to be more dependent on a smaller number of people. If we aren't careful, soon a clique will form.

Cliques are an exclusive circle of friends whose lives have become overly intertwined until they are emotionally dependent. They may be friendly and even hospitable, but in truth, written on their hearts is the slogan US ONLY! From the inside they appear to themselves to be nothing more than good friends who fit well together and have a lot of similar interests. From the outside, however, they look like a group of insecure middle-school girls: always having to be together, always wanting to know what is going on in each others lives, until they begin to need to know “where were you,” and even start to wear the same clothes and get matching outfits … YUCK! They are together so much they seem to be joined at the hip like Siamese twins.

My friend Dale Rumble says that cliques are one of the most dangerous and devastating things to body life in the church. They must be destroyed! Recently the Lord showed me a vision in which I saw a church building with a large, dark bug — a click beetle — clinging on the side of the building. I then saw a hand reach down from above and brush the bug off the building. Again I saw the hand, only this time it held a large mallet with which it struck the beetle destroying it. The Lord is going to break up and destroy the cliques in the Church. God wants to change the cliques from US ONLY to JESUS ONLY. Don't settle for a decreasing sphere of approval in your life until it is down to only one … Jesus! He wants us to get our approval only from Him! The question you need to ask yourself is “Whose smiling face are you looking to see?” When great things happen in your life, do you look to the Lord , or to certain friends? The answer will tell you if you have an emotional dependency from seeking the approval of others.

You might be thinking that since you have been struggling with one of these pet sins for such a long time that it must not be important to God. We often mistake God’s mercy for tolerance. But God does not wink at sin, nor think of it as trivial. If sin were such a small thing, why did Jesus have to die a tortuous death on the cross?

What do you think Jesus would say about your pet sin? “Don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal, don’t get upset.” No! This is what Jesus said,
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. … And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. … If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8). You might be thinking “If I cut off my hand, I’d be handicapped!” You do not realize how much your sin is handicapping you right now. We don’t seem to know the seriousness of sin. Jesus says it is better to be blind, maimed, and crippled than have sin residing in your life.

The Cure — True Repentance
The cure for pet sins is the same as for any other sin; repentance. Repentance is more than just admitting we have sinned and asking for forgiveness. It involves turning from sin, which includes turning from those things that open the door to it or help keep it alive in our lives. If you have been struggling with a habitual sin, I have a word for you … STOP!!! Stop struggling, and start making decisions that bring victory! After confessing it to God and asking His forgiveness, you must choose to exercise your will and say no to sin; even saying no to those things that might lead to sin. Jesus came to bring us freedom. It is not a freedom to sin, but a freedom from sin!

I did some counseling with a person who had a number of problems, one of which was internet pornography. Over and over again he would start to say no to this stronghold by dropping his internet service. But each time he would end up signing back up and slipping back into this dark and degrading sin. Finally I told him I wanted him to bring me his modem (the part of the computer that allows it to connect to the internet through the telephone line). “But I won’t be able to see all the prophetic words that are going around the body of Christ, or know what’s happening in Israel” was his shocked response. How easily we justify the temptation that feeds our pet sins. Firmly I replied, “Yes, you always start with good intentions, but you always end up in the same sinful places.” When I required this man to bring me his modem as a sign of true repentance, in less than a week he was no longer in our fellowship. I recently heard he was telling others he had to leave our fellowship because of a controlling spirit. I believe he was correct. The spirit of pornography obviously had control of his life, holding him in its perverted grip, and leaving him guilty but unrepentant.

Jesus payed the price to forgive our sins, the question is are we willing to do our part by avoiding the things that open the door for those sins? If every time you look at an attractive person of the opposite sex you begin to have lustful thoughts, then stop looking at them. It might be permissible for others, but for you it is sin. Or perhaps when you see people buying our society’s extravagant toys you just cannot help wanting all those same things and the spirits of covetousness and greed start to operate in your life. If so, maybe you should not go shopping at the mall. The point is that Jesus’ solution to sin is more than just feeling bad and asking for forgiveness. Jesus knows that only His blood can wipe away sin, and it is appropriated to us when we truly repent.

God is saying in this day that our pet sins, pet doctrines, and pet wounds are no longer welcome in His Church. These three pets are like hurdles the enemy has placed on the course God has called us to run. The enemy’s plan is for them to thwart us from running with the message God has given us for this world. Let us strip away everything that hinders us being His and running His race. We must let go of the leashes of our pet wounds through forgiveness, and lay down our pet doctrines on His altar. God is calling us to stop struggling and get victory over every pet sin that hinders our walk with Him. Lord, remove every encumbrance, that we would truly be your messengers cloaked in righteousness and bringing your light and love and life to a world that is desperately needy for You!


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