An end-time army of burning ones are coming together to serve with passion in Detroit!
Give leadership to the prayer movement in Detroit
The vision is hot and ready for you jump into. We want to help you understand the vision and what you can expect.
Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV) And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
The following is required for everybody who participates in theFurnace, theLab or theCore:
- A high standard of holiness
- Financial partnership (tithe)
- 6pm Saturday War Room Prayer
Who is theCore for?
Burning men and women of God who are desperately hungry, disciplined and available to commit at a high level.
At the Detroit Prayer Furnace we have three specific opportunities for you to lock into a lifestyle of prayer and ministry. Is theCore right for you? Maybe and maybe not.
Here are the three ways you can connect:
If you simply want to connect with other fire-breathers and involve yourself in a fiery culture of intercession and prophetic ministry, theFurnace is for you.
theFurnace is an extremely important part of our culture, and some of our most effective leaders may land here instead of theCore. Why? Because we highly value marketplace leaders and others who have more limited availability due to their assignment in the workplace or their place in life.
Anybody can start in theFurnace at any time, and even stay there without ever participating in theLab or theCore. Simply communicate your desire to lock in with our team, agree to the minimum commitments (see above) and burn with us as often as you can each week!
theLab University is a school of fire that prepares people for Holy Spirit baptized ministry.
We strongly encourage everybody in our community to enroll in theLab University. This is a focused, intense training environment that will unlock your destiny and set you ablaze!
theLab will also instruct you in the core values of the Detroit Prayer Furnace, the vision and how to best engage in our unique culture.
Everybody interested in joining theCore, a team of 40+ leaders in the Detroit Prayer Furnace, must successfully complete one three-month session of theLab.
You can get more info here: www.thelabuniversity.com
theCore is made up of leaders and emerging leaders who have successfully completed theLab, and who have the desire to serve on a focused, consecrated and submitted team of end-time warriors.
The vision is white hot—this team will be locking arms with fellow soldiers in continual prayer, training emerging leaders, carrying the fire to the cities of the Earth and modeling Acts 2 unity and consecration.
Keep in mind, for the sake of continuity, unity and corporate strength, we have unapologetically and intentionally raised the bar of commitment very high for this team—with very little, if any, flex.
Our target size for this team is only 40. We consider theCore to be our primary leadership team who serve under our senior staff, and, with this in mind, the commitment is the same as senior leadership.
Most people at the Detroit Prayer Furnace will serve with joyful passion in theFurnace. Some will get equipped in theLab. Few will choose to participate on theCore.
theCore is made up of ministry leaders who are able to consider this commitment primary over employment and other endeavors. Keep this in mind as you chart out your connection plan at the Detroit Prayer Furnace. You may not be able to join theCore due to other life focuses, and that is OK! theFurnace is an excellent place for you to connect AND you can participate in nearly every ministry and event that theCore does—just at your own pace.
While the commitment at theCore will work best for those who don’t work at all, there may be, depending on the specific situation, enough flex built in to the schedule to allow for some outside employment if necessary.
Keep in mind that local travel is required when the team is involved in regional events. These events can take place at any time, which is a key reason extensive availability beyond our regular weekly schedule is required.
- The full time commitment works out to be approximately 12-14 hours a week.
- The part time commitment works out to be approximately 9-10 hours a week.
Opportunities for those on theCore include:
- leading prayer watch teams
- developing ministries
- leading traveling teams
- advancing the prayer movement
theCore team is firmly devoted to consecration and modeling the lifestyle of an end-time forerunner.
theCore commitment includes:
- FULL TIME: Four prayer & ministry events per week
- PART TIME: Two prayer & ministry events per week
- A high standard of holiness
- 5pm Saturday meeting
- 6pm Saturday intercession
- Monthly small group at John and Amy Burton’s home
- Traveling locally (and further if available) for ministry events
- Financial partnership (tithe)
- Continuing education
If you want to join theFurnace, theLab or theCore, we want to hear from you! Please email us at [email protected] TODAY! We will give you info on how to get started.
Of course, you don’t have to participate at any level! If you simply want to enjoy our events, come on out!
A deeper, weightier revelation of God’s love is coming—and it will look much different than we realize.
Are you ready for a deep, heavy, absolutely overwhelming revelation of God’s love?
I’m sitting in a powerful session with Barbara Yoder, Cindy Williams and a ministry team from Catch the Fire (Toronto) at Shekinah Church in Ann Arbor. It’s all about encountering the love of God, soaking in his presence and preparing to serve in love in a revival atmosphere. I’m yearning for more of this presence! I love what this ministry is about!
There is a MASSIVE increase in revelation of the love of God and the experience of his presence coming, and much of it will fulfill the yearnings of our heart. I’m convinced that much of it will also be quite surprising to you at how it manifests.
In order for there to be a false-anything, there must be a true, pure reality. Those of you who are longing for a pure, love-driven move of God, get ready! We are about to have the opportunity to go deeper than we ever have. True love will change the world.
We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…
We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.
As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s we saw the emergence of free love.
Free love is a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social and financial bondage. The Free Love movement's initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery. It claimed that such issues were the concern of the people involved, and no one else.
Much of the free-love tradition is an offshoot of anarchism, and reflects a libertarian philosophy that seeks freedom from state regulation and church interference in personal relationships.
The free love movement was not a love movement at all. It was focused on self-satisfaction, personal experience and relational connections. The intimacy they sought after was never found as sexual promiscuity served as a destructive, unfulfilling counterfeit.
I believe we are experiencing a similar free love movement in the church today:
- Rejecting marriage—this speaks to a resistance to covenant. The desire is to control the love connection, the experience. When the emotional rush is gone, and relational intimacy is disappointing, so many of today’s Christians sever that connection and move on to more satisfying relationships. They move from partner to partner, driven by selfish ambition seeking to be served instead of to serve.
- Social and financial bondage—free love seeks after social and relational euphoria, and if this is not experienced, people tend to flee from the threat of bondage. True investment into others is resisted unless there is an exchange, unless what they are seeking after is given to them. The problem? This is relational prostitution. Many Christians will invest into others only if their friendship is given in return.
- Separation from the state—just as those in the free love movement several decades ago sought after liberation from governmental control, many Christians today reject biblical government. Government requires submission, and submission doesn’t feel like love—though it is. Kingdom order requires submission, respect of boundaries and a surrender of personal rights. This is love! We hear so much about human rights today, as if it’s the purest manifestation of love. It is not! The homosexual movement demands the government stays out of their intimate pursuits. The pro-choice movement demands the government stays out of their wombs. 1 Corinthians 13 reveals that love is not self-seeking! It’s not about human rights, it’s about serving God’s government, his purposes and his people.
False-Love Myths and Deceptions
Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.
With that in mind, here are some false-love (or tainted love) myths and deceptions that have hit the church:
- Expecting or demanding love from others—Remember, love is not self-seeking. Have you ever been wounded by someone who didn’t act in love toward you? It is normal to desire to be loved, but true love doesn’t expect or demand others to be the one to fulfill that desire. If we point our fingers at others who aren’t acting in love, then it’s an evidence that we ourselves do not love. If someone isn’t acting in love toward you, isn’t relationally close to you, won’t befriend you, how will you react? Will you refuse to invest into them unless you get something in return? You have actually fallen into relational prostitution. Jesus laid down his life for those who hated him and we must do the same.
- Focusing on God’s love is all we need—This is a disturbing trend in the church, but it’s actually not mostly incorrect. It’s mostly right! The argument is that when we focus on experiencing the pure, true love of Jesus, everything else in life just falls into place. If we focus on love, sin won’t be an issue. Maturity will just happen. Not so. What is mostly right? Well, the greater the revelation of God’s love for us, the more we want to be holy, respond in obedience and mature. Love is a great motivator! However, experiencing love is not all we need! The Bible is filled with instructions and mandates and focuses that we are responsible to respond to even if the love connection isn’t there one day.
Additionally, the Bible is filled with stories of people who loved God, and who sinned. Being with Jesus, loving Jesus, being intimate with Jesus is worthy of most of our energy and focus. However, even in a deep, intimate place with Jesus, obedience can be hard. Flesh can rise up. Satan can tempt. We can be deceived. Our theologies can be off. This is why we must continually let God search our hearts for any wicked way in us. We must be in the Word! We must be submitted to authorities who watch out for our souls. We can’t just enjoy God and presume our job is done.
- Love initiated pride—There seems to be a rapid emergence of those who are going after love of Jesus, and who are resisting discipline and discipleship. The reason? Pride. The presumption is that their encounter with the love of God has elevated them to a point where they no longer need to be a student of the Word, to focus on the sin potential in their lives or submit to others. They wouldn’t say that they are above others, but their arguments reveal their hearts more than not. When the call for holiness, brokenness, study, obedience, etc. is presented to them, they become puffed up and in turn, while rejecting your “inferior focuses”, call you to come up higher and just focus on love. Their response very often is, “If you really understood the Father’s love, you would see what I mean.” It’s arrogance masquerading as spirituality. The very fact that this is happening is a revelation that they have not truly experienced love the way they claim.
- Love must always manifest a certain way—In scripture, we do have a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. I’d encourage you to read a recent article where I unpack it HERE. So, it is true that, for example, love is always patient. If you aren’t patient, then, that is a specific issue that you can analyze in yourself. However, there is a spirit of accusation in the camp that moves outside of this scriptural definition and declares that if you don’t function a certain way, then you don’t love the way God loves. For example, someone might say to an intercessor, “If you truly loved people, you would move out of your prayer closet and hit the streets and feed the homeless!” It’s an accusation against a child of God that they don’t love because they don’t fit into an imperfect definition of what love really is. Can you really imagine someone looking at a sweet, passionate grandma who prays with tears every day that she doesn’t love people because she isn’t street witnessing? On the flip side, an intercessor might say, “If you truly loved people you would spend hours a day praying from them!”
Additionally, in the article I linked to above I explain how love will manifest through the different offices. Love looks different when delivered through a pastor than it does when delivered through a prophet. As a church leader I have had to expend a lot of energy explaining to people what type of love and connection they might expect from someone like me. Most people think I’m a pastor when they first meet me (because church leaders in America are almost always called Pastor). If people presume that I will express love like a pastor, they can actually get very offended when that doesn’t happen. Accusations can fly. But, if we simply understood that, in addition to the 1 Corinthians 13 definition, different people, different offices and different cultures will express love very, very differently, it will be easy to honor and love them instead of making demands of them.
- Love always feels good—Oh boy, this one is big. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.
- God is always in a good mood—Not true. Period. I’ve said it this way: If God is always in a good mood, he would be a monster, laughing and doing a happy dance as he casts people he loves into Hell. If we believe God is always in a good mood, we will reject messages and revelations that don’t result in us being in a good mood. We will associate the love of God with the hate of Satan. We know that God is still wrathful. He still gets angry. He is saddened. He is joyful. He is happy. He has moods, and the deepest place of love exists when we partner with God in his emotions. What is on God’s heart? How can we serve him and minister to him?
- Love requires that you are emotionally connected—Again, not true. Humans have the ability to love many but can only befriend a few. Different people have different capacities, but the principle remains the same. Don’t presume someone doesn’t love you if they don’t get close to you at a heart level. In fact, may I be so bold as to say, they might not like you! To love someone does not require that we like them. So we can love the masses and only connect at a close, friendship level with a few. Think about it. Do you want to be friends with everybody? Nope. Why would you expect the same from another? A rejection complex has really done a lot of damage to people—and they look for their healing to come from others loving them the way they want instead of dying to self and refusing to place that burden on them. They love them.
I remember a mega-church pastor that was extremely popular. He felt like your best friend though you really didn’t have a real personal relationship with him. People often wanted to get close to him, and they actually had a bit of a system in place to handle that! An associate would approach those who were a bit overzealous in their attempts to befriend the pastor. He’d say, “The Pastor will serve you well and express love by leading you, teaching you and helping you connect with Jesus. However, don’t expect him to be a personal friend of yours.” The same scenario is true for small churches. The pastor may be an introvert, may have limited emotional energy or simply may be called to focus on different things! Don’t presume that someone doesn’t love you just because they aren’t serving you the way you want. How potentially offensive and seemingly arrogant is this passage?
Acts 6:1-4 (MSG) 1 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—”Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn't be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. 3 So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we'll assign them this task. 4 Meanwhile, we'll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word.”
They were saying that they would not be connecting to people who needed help! They would focus on connecting to God and their very specific tasks! And, my good friends, that is love! They weren’t to feed the widows. They weren’t to make hospital visits. They weren’t to answer their phones every time someone needed them. They were to pray and preach, and that was deep, fiery love!
- You have to convince people that you love them—We are to be kind, without question. However, we aren’t to modify our messages, to soften our speech or to attempt to convince people that we love them. We should simply love them! How’s this statement of love:
Acts 2:22-24 (MSG) 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge— 23 this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him.
You pinned him to a cross and killed him! He was in their grill! He was bringing correction with a bold, fiery spirit! He wasn’t worried about hurting their feelings—he was proclaiming the power of Jesus! His goal wasn’t to sit down and ask how their heart was, how they were feeling, if they feel OK. He was in another mode, functioning in love, and rocking their world and exposing their thinking that would lead them to Hell! I’m sure they didn’t feel loved, but if they responded to Peter’s message, they would have been flooded with the experiential, burning love of Jesus!
- Hard messages aren’t driven by love—This is attached to the above point, but it’s worthy of some extra attention. Jonathan Edwards’ message “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is largely dismissed by today’s ultra-sensitive, thin-skinned culture as unloving. I’ve heard it said that he didn’t have a revelation of the Father’s love. This is not only wrong, it’s a violation of scriptural truth! We cannot avoid the hard messages of sin, Hell and repentance out of fear that we’ll be rejected by those who are offended. We can’t modify our messages to sound loving—we must trust that the Word of God is a message of love! Truth delivered in love doesn’t always feel great, and it will offend many, but those who receive it are changed forever!
We could go on and on for quite a while discussing myths and deceptions regarding love. The enemy is terrified of the manifestation of true love, and he’s offering a castrated version of it to those who are seeking after good, happy feelings. Castrated love feels good, but it has no ability to bring forth life!
It’s time for us to trust God as he is, not as we want him to be. It’s time to dive into the Word and embrace Jesus as he manifests a variety of emotions which are all rooted in love.
A civil war in the church is drawing near—and it will be centered around the fear of the Lord.
Before I get into the meat of this message, I want to address something that I’m sure many of you have wondered about.
Yes, I am absolutely intentional regarding my “unbalanced” approach on the end-times, the church and the call to reformation. The reason is simple—the situation in the church is so dire that an urgent, radical response is necessary.
We cannot casually sit back and initiate Christian small talk as we seek to find common ground anymore. Billions are headed to Hell, and in their ranks are a very high percentage of those who call themselves Christians.
Many believe the church is mostly doing well with a few minor, non-essential issues to address, and an upgrade in positive, encouraging messages will help nudge us back on course. A focus on God’s goodness and love alone will be enough to convince people to veer back on course. If that were the case, I would absolutely be more subtle in my approach. However, it is not. The church is way off balance, and an extremely weighty counterbalance is necessary.
I let my son Skylar get behind the wheel of the car for the first time in a parking lot the other day to begin to teach him how to drive. He was getting used to the steering, gas pedal and brake responsiveness, and, under my watchful eye in the passenger seat, he would jerk the car left and right, brake too hard, step on the gas too quickly and give us quite a ride. My response? Subtle, encouraging words to straighten it out, to ease up on the gas, to brake more softly. He was on the right track, but was simply learning how to stay on it.
That is not where the church is today. Things are not mostly good. We are not on the right track.
How would you react if the person driving your car decided to go the wrong way down a highway, at 100 miles per hour, at night with the headlights off, with his eyes closed and not a care in the world?
You would scream! You would grab the wheel! You would not passively, subtly encourage him to straighten it out. You would not talk about how lovely an evening it is. It wouldn’t be the right time to teach him how to parallel park or how to change the oil. You both are near death and immediate, continuous cries and alarms must be sounded! Not only are you near death, but others will be crushed by your wayward vehicle as they come over the next hill!
The church is also near death—and is putting many others at risk. Many in the church are on their way to Hell—and they have no idea. This is why I sound alarm after alarm after alarm. If you choose to turn a deaf ear, so be it.
However, I challenge you to be receptive and responsive, and not shut out the warnings of the Lord, no matter how irritating and repetitive they are. In fact, join me in my cry. Cry out REPENT! Turn around!
Matthew 3:1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Preparea the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
A Coming Civil War
I needed to explain what I did in the opening section to help you understand what I’m going to share next.
Entire popular movements today are in the wrong lane, going the wrong way and putting the church at risk of eternal death.
We are going way to far with our ecumenically driven strategies of unity within the church. The false-love movement that focuses on friendships and affirmation has led to a false-unity movement where we presume anybody who goes to church and professes Christ to be a legitimate Christian worthy of our alliance.
I’ve said before and I’ll say again—I will love everybody with the fiery love of Jesus, but I absolutely, unapologetically refuse with bold resolve to unite with anybody who isn’t carrying their cross, dying daily and burning hot for Jesus Christ.
I do not presume people to be saved simply because they say they are.
We are all in process, and as long as we, in our weakness, in our struggles and in our brokenness are truly running after Jesus, I will be right there with you. However, if that is not the case, you heard me right—I will not run with you.
I will love you. I will pray for you. I will honor you. I will encourage you. But I won’t run with you. I won’t unite with you.
You might be wondering how, with that type of resolve, we can avoid a civil war in the church. We can’t. We don’t want to.
The sickle is about to be taken to both the wheat and the tares, so we will all be hit with the judgment of God. This will be a very difficult season for everybody, but it is a necessary one.
Matthew 13:30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Matt 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Jesus boldly revealed what a true believer looks like. His sword of truth is about to strike the church and those who are not fully his will be revealed.
North vs. South
The true remnant will rise up with spiritual violence to liberate masses from the slavery that has been granted them through inappropriate theologies and religious systems.
There will be great confusion in the nation as the world watches this happen in the church, yet it will only be for a season. The true church will eventually emerge, finally, with the power and love they have been craving to see.
Great leaders will rise up in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist to initiate conflict (instead of avoid it) and to wrestle with spiritual forces of darkness.
Ephesians 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.” – September 1862 – Abraham Lincoln – Meditation on the Divine Will
The Fear of the Lord
Please consider what I’m about to communicate very carefully.
We must be humble, teachable and repentant. As prophetic messengers, we cannot move in the flesh and come against what may be a true move of God. Take your viewpoints to God and ensure he confirms them to you. Allow your theologies to be challenged by the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of Truth reign in your life.
That being said, we cannot stay silent when there is a clear and present danger in the church. To do so would be treason! When God sounds an alarm in your spirit, you must respond to that alarm!
The coming civil war in the church will hinge on the issue of the fear of the Lord (among a handful of other issues).
There are entire movements that are vocally opposing the validity of the fear of the Lord. The civil war in the church will form as the camp divides on this primary issue.
Of course, the false-grace movement and the false-love movement (that refuses any scriptural reality that doesn’t feel like love) are devoid of the fear of the Lord. There are other significant movements out there that may not be as extreme as this, but are at least silent if not resistant to any discussion of the fear of the Lord.
Spiritual pride is a direct result of the absence of the fear of the Lord. So is apathy, a focus on personal experience, the rejection of the call to live a repentant life and having a benefit and blessing mindset.
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Luke 1:50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
While I understand, and even affirm to a degree, the desire to call God “Daddy,” I am at least a little troubled at how casual we have become with such a fearful, mighty God.
God is not our personal emotional warm fuzzy. He cannot be limited to that. He is mighty indeed!
Does he comfort? Oh my, YES! Does he encourage? Yes! Is he your Daddy? Absolutely! But, my friend, he is so MUCH more.
We can and MUST experience both comfort and fear simultaneously! The civil way in the church will see a departure on this issue. Many will reject this mandate to fear God.
Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Without the fear of the Lord, his true nature cannot be discerned. Without the fear of the Lord, there is no friendship of the Lord.
Psalm 25:14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile
This fear of the lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom. This consciousness of sin is the straight pathway to heaven. ~Joseph Barber Lightfoot
It is critical that we allow the fear of the Lord to expose issues of our heart that put our relationship with him at risk! This is very good! This is desirable! And, the fear of the Lord is not “respect” of the Lord. The Bible calls it dread. Terror. It’s quite the mystery indeed that we can experience both terror and love at the same time! How mighty is our God!
2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
The fear of the lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27)
Vision of a Chess Board
I once had a vision of a chess board, and on the appropriate squares stood actual humans, Christians. They each were fervent and focused as devoted warriors. They all seemed to be spiritual mature and responding to their call of duty.
Suddenly, the chess board began to shake violently. It was clearly a tremor from Heaven as God was causing everything to be hit by his loving judgment. He will shake everything that can be shaken.
What happened next was remarkable. Most of the Christian soldiers remained standing, while a few hit their faces in humility and brokenness. Those who stood, in pride, were suddenly shaken so violently that they turned to dust.
This shaking is coming to the church. Those who pridefully reject the fear of the Lord are in great danger, though they are fervent in their religion.
A Concentration of Government
I shared at a recent regional church leader’s prophetic prayer meeting that we must be careful.
There is a lot of pride in this region—especially within the church of Detroit.
Acts 10:35 But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
It’s right to respond to God’s mandate to focus on our region and on the state of Michigan. I am friends with some phenomenal leaders who are spearheading a movement of prayer in this state, and they are doing so with great humility.
We must follow their lead, and we cannot allow the pride of Detroit to manifest in our zeal to see a great end time revival land here.
While geographic boundaries do have extreme significance, we have to understand the greater reality.
Washington DC is not important to this nation because of its geographic boundaries. In fact, it’s a very small area. The reason Washington DC is significant is because of the concentration of government. It is our governmental center, and the governmental activity is greater there than anywhere else in the nation.
Yet, the Pentagon is also important and strategic to our nation. So are our military bases. Why? Because of their affiliation and alliance and responsiveness to the governmental leadership in Washington.
Michigan is no different. Pride would cause us to presume that there is something special about our geography. Humility, and an accurate analysis of the situation would reveal something very different—Michigan will be special because of the concentration of humble, cross-bearing, anointed Kingdom government officials and offices that will be established here. Heaven’s authority is coming, I believe, to Michigan. Our impact will be determined by our willingness to humbly respond to God’s governmental leadership.
Just as with Washington DC, it’s not about making Detroit famous. We have been given a sober mandate—to serve our nation in the midst of a coming national, civil war.
A Dividing Line
As God’s government increases, no matter where it is, the division will increase. Gray will become black and white. People will have to choose where they stand. It sounds terrible, but in a wheat and tare season, it is absolutely necessary. God is bringing judgment to the church, and people will absolutely choose sides.
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
This is why the fear of the Lord is so critical! We are scarcely saved and judgment is coming!
Those with a casual disposition and a resistance to the fear of the Lord, and a focus on “Daddy God” without also acknowledging him as “Fearful Judge and Father” will be disturbed beyond description.
Their understanding of who God is will be threatened and they will end up choosing to resist the one they say they know! My God!
Thus, the civil war will commence.
The false-unity, “can’t we all just get along” hopes will be crushed as the fearful reality of the Judge brings his sword of division. His love will provoke him to call the true bride of Christ out and give those compromised by faulty theologies a clear and compelling chance to run to him.
The false-grace, false-love, false-unity movements are radically resistant to the fear of the Lord, yet they won’t be able to escape it when it all comes crashing down.
The world is getting better and better?
The glorious fear of the Lord results in radical and continual repentance as we joyfully encounter the lover and judge of our souls at the same time.
The grief and mourning is multi-faceted, yet much of it comes from an understanding that great destruction is upon us and Hell is expanding as millions are sucked into its horrors.
Those who reject this idea are focused on blessing and benefits. The belief is that the world is getting better and better, and we can rest easy—eat, drink and play.
Exodus 32:4And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a goldena calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
So many have fashioned a god of their own design—and have given it glory for rescuing them from Egypt! The plan is to play instead of forging ahead to save the world. They want to stay at the bottom of the mountain with their hands in their ears saying, “La la la la la!”
I’ve heard it said that God is always in a good mood. This is not only ridiculous theology, but it’s dangerous. Why? When those who subscribe to this idea experience the fearful shakings of God, they will reject him as a foreigner or as a demon.
John 8:48The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.
I honestly have no patience for the argument that God is always in a good mood, and that he no longer judges. We need his judgment!
How can 4000 babies a day murdered in our nation, an increase in radical terrorism, absolutely disgusting moral decline, pornography viewed by most people—in the church and increasing suicides, murders and other atrocities cause anyone to presume the world is getting better?
The goal is not to live a great life now—it’s to rescue a dying planet and prepare the way of the Lord!
The fear of the Lord will result in a sobriety that will shake us terribly. We will see the heartbreak of God and join him in his distress.
God is absolutely not in a good mood all the time. If he was, he’d be a monster as he laughed and did a happy dance as he cast people into eternal torment in Hell.
No, God is very often sad, disturbed and heartbroken.
Pray. Pray like your life depends on it. It does.
Mourn. Cry out. Sound alarms. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Be broken. Be humble. Be repentant.
A civil war is coming. Will you choose the way of comfort and pleasure and personal benefits as you fashion a god of your own design? Many significant movements and churches will do so. The pressure to join them will be extreme. The deception will be convincing. Will you seek after peace and safety with them?
Or will you drop your toys, leave the remote on the couch, let the dead bury their own dead and head up the mountain where the lightening, thundering, shakings—and God himself are?
Exodus 19:16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain[b] trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
The reality that MOST people in the world and MANY in the church will be tormented forever in Hell grips me night and day.
Yesterday I wrote an article titled “Shock Christianity.” I strongly exhort you to read it as this is a follow up message. You can read it HERE.
You can also listen to a provocative podcast on the same topic of Shock Christianity and what love really looks like on that page.
We have been duped.
So many in the church have been deceived into believing in a costless, easy salvation—and it is so penetrated our culture that any argument against it is aggressively rejected.
The false grace message, as I have shared many times, is lulling people into a spiritual coma, and that is the best part of the news. The worst? Many of them will move from coma to trauma as they enter eternity into the terror of Hell.
Just as I shared yesterday, I am beyond concerned and troubled regarding the state of the church.
When I walk into even the most vibrant, Spirit-filled church, the grid I see is that of many people who are intimate with Jesus, and potentially many who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition.
In fact, in a life-giving church of 1000 people, it wouldn’t surprise me if 100 of them are truly saved.
As I wrote in yesterday’s message, there is a false love movement that is exceedingly popular in the world today. The focus is on self—our experience, our emotions, our feelings. The goal is affirmation and emotional intimacy that masquerades as true love.
The result? People avoid dealing with the tough issues in the hopes of encouraging and affirming people. Many people in the church who are on their way to Hell are affirmed in their journey—by other Christians! No alarms are sounded. No warnings shared. No grief and tears. Just a smile and a hug for their friend who is in a treacherous, lukewarm condition.
Consider the shocking statements by the Pope this past week:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.
“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening.”
Regardless of whether his true intent was lost in translation or not, the message he sent is being received by many that they can simply do good and that they are safe. My God.
Hell isn’t for bad people. It’s for those who reject intimacy with Jesus. It’s for those who reject his Lordship.
This passive approach of false love extends well beyond the landscape of the church. We have overestimated the power of being nice and passive with those in the homosexual movement, for example. How is this working for us? Many churches functioning in a spirit of false love and overreaching sympathy are now affirming people in the lifestyle that is killing them!
Churches “very rarely talk about sin and refuse ever to say that homosexual behavior is a sin.” Only a minority of people in the churches in Britain, “speak out the word of God. And they get a lot of aggression for it,” she said.
“The church is doing a disservice to homosexuals by denying sinners their liberty in the lord Jesus Christ. They are blind guides leading others into a ditch of destruction.” ~Lesley Pilkington
So, what is true love for the homosexual community? Warn them! Awaken them! It’s not about being moral or talking about how it affects them here on Earth as much as it is about their eternity.
We have to have the guts to tell them that Hell is their future and we desperately don’t want them to go there! Staying silent is not love.
Jesus made mention of Hell and a coming judgment dozens of times in the Gospels. Jesus had more to say about Hell than He did about Heaven!
And Jesus made it absolutely clear that people who refuse to repent, who turn away God’s provision of forgiveness and salvation, will spend eternity separated from God in a place of conscious torment that He often called “Hell” (Matthew 5:29).
Now in spite of the Bible's clarity on this issue, Satan has deceived millions of people into believing a variety of other “softer” options. Satan, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), never ceases to take advantage of those who are willing to lay aside Biblical revelation for something that is more palatable. ~Charlie Campbell
Where are they now?
Rest in peace. That phrase is spoken at most every funeral in the world, yet it’s only truly applicable in a small percentage of those who enter eternity. Most don’t rest, and most have no peace.
I have heard many say that it’s not loving to mention the reality of Hell to people. When evangelizing, many completely leave out the truth about eternity without Jesus. Hell isn’t mentioned. The cross isn’t mentioned. Repentance isn’t mentioned. And, as a result, people are lured into a false religious experience that gives them false hope. Some say that we only need to reveal the love of Jesus, and it’s actually detrimental to mention negative things such as sin and Hell. If that’s the case, Jesus himself failed. He mentioned Hell often.
Let me make it clear: It is deep love that warns people about eternity separated from Jesus!
Some say it’s a fear tactic to mention Hell. That is absolute insanity. With the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus didn’t say that it was unloving to mention Hell. He said that it’s a part of the presentation of the prophets, yet it is ignored! Jesus said that people needed to hear about Hell and be convinced about it!
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” [Luke 16:19-31 ESV]
So, just where are people who have died right now? Just who is resting in peace?
Some suggest that just one in one thousand avoid the torment of Hell. This would be a narrow road indeed.
Where are Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Andy Griffith, Steve Jobs and other stars who have died recently? Really think about it. Of course, we can’t arrive at a definitive answer, BUT we must consider the question.
If we default to believing Whitney Houston, for example, went to Heaven, that belief will impact the way we live our own lives. Of course, my sincere hope is that she is there…that goes without saying. But, lets think about this very difficult question.
Another way to ask the question is, is it truly rare for even professing Christians to make Heaven? Is it possible that a small percentage of church goers will truly make it?
Now, compare the two perspectives.
The point? Hell is real. Hell is expanding. Most go there. They are not resting in peace. Affirming people in unsaved, lukewarm conditions is aiding them in their journey to Hell. That is not love. Not even close.
This is the issue that grips me every day of my life. My primary message is for the church. I can’t get too excited about teaching on anything other than awakening if that teaching will only help people in the few years leading up to their plunge into Hell. The spirit of awakening is upon me!
The Good News
I don’t believe you can preach the Good News without it being in the context of the bad news.
Approximately 100 people die every minute. This means, possibly NONE of them are in Heaven right now. Possibly all 100 are in Hell. Or, maybe one or two made it.
In the time it has taken you to read this article so far, approximately 500-1000 people have died. It’s possible that 950 or 975 or 990 of them, for example, are in Hell right now.
Many of them are absolutely shocked to be there. This very second, as you are reading this, somewhere in the belly of the Earth, they are freaking out. They thought they were saved, but were not. Nobody sounded an alarm in their life. The Gospel was possibly dumbed down and diluted—and that is what they bought into.
Getting saved is simple but not easy. Free but not without great cost. Few are interested in salvation like that.
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said,“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” [Mark 10:17-31 ESV]
Who then can be saved? The disciples wrestled with the issue of salvation, and so must we! We must work it out with fear and trembling. We must endure to the end. Few do that, and a prayer decades prior with some cleaned up living and church attendance is not what saves.
Without intimacy with Jesus and a willingness to surrender all, Hell is the future.
So, the Good News is truly good news when seen on the backdrop of eternal darkness.
The love of Jesus is clear when presented in contrast to such hatred.
It’s time friends to shout from the rooftops this message. The fear of the Lord must grip us and the hunger for intimacy with Jesus must overwhelm us!
It’s those who aren’t intimate with Jesus who will be cast into Hell. People who he didn’t know.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers! ’ [Matthew 7:2 HCSB]
Do you know anybody who’s not intimate with Jesus? Warn them. Call them higher. Pray for them. Do not presume that they are safe. They absolutely are not.
Shock Christianity: A prophetic alarm is sounding as a code blue church is under the shock paddles of the great Physician.
I’m going to take the opportunity to lay some very important things out on the table—in the hopes that God will bring clarity to what is expected in this end-of-the-age season that we are in.
**Near the end, I will share very important information about why I focus on such a narrow, offensive, troubling message. It’s important that you hear my heart on this.
Here is a provocative podcast on this topic:
I had planned on writing an article dealing with the issue of love as it’s revealed through prophetic voices for the last week, and since then I’ve had at least a few key unexpected discussions regarding what one called “Shock Christianity.”
I believe this is evidence that it’s time to both humbly ask God to inspect our hearts (as I always do when I find myself in such active and controversial seasons) and clearly communicate what is truly to be expected.
It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.
The problem? There’s confusion about what love is, and also about how to react when someone isn’t manifesting love in the way we think they should.
Friendship & emotional intimacy
For many, especially those with a high mercy gift, the seemingly obvious, non-negotiable manifestation of love is close friendship and deep, emotional intimacy.
This isn’t an inappropriate desire—it’s the way many are wired. But, it is inappropriate to presume that a lack of emotional intimacy is evidence of a lack of love.
It’s too easy to point a finger at someone who has healthy boundaries setup and accuse them of not loving you. The accurate analysis would actually be that they most probably do love you, but they don’t desire emotional intimacy with you.
In fact, it may hurt, but we have to understand that not everybody wants to be our friend! That doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they don’t feel impressed to develop that type of relationship with us. They are limited in their ability or desire to befriend certain people, and that’s OK. It’s normal.
I personally know that not everybody will like me, and not everybody will want to be my friend. It would actually be really bizarre if that weren’t true!
Additionally, for many leaders, their primary goal isn’t to connect with everybody, but rather it’s to connect everybody to God. That is a valid and important ministry.
I think of Mike Bickle who isn’t going to just befriend anybody who walks into IHOPKC, but he absolutely will invest every ounce of his energy to help you connect to Jesus. What love that is!
What is love?
That’s a loaded question. I feel all of us would agree that the answer is wildly expansive and multifaceted.
And that it is. If the definition of biblical love is so deep and wide, why is it that we get offended when someone doesn’t fit our shallow and narrow definition of love?
If you search for “God’s Love” on Amazon, it returns 311,863 available books. It’s an inexhaustible topic!
When you read scripture, it is, again, inexhaustible. Of course, we do have quite a wonderful definition here:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I personally consider this passage often. Really, I do so continually. For me, loving with God’s love is non-negotiable, though it is so easy to fail. The fear of the Lord is on me regarding the issue as this passage reveals a sharp warning to those who minister without loving. For someone with a “shock Christianity” mandate, this is all the more sobering. I must love without fail while shaking the sleepers. If love doesn’t drive the shaking, if it’s selfish ambition or greed that does it, I am in big trouble.
Now, this passage isn’t to be used as ammunition against others who don’t measure up, but rather it’s to be a sword to our own hearts. We need to let God break us. Don’t look to others who seem to be failing in love and accuse them of failure. You love them without reserve! Cover them as Noah was covered by two of his three sons. Don’t be the son that exposed his father’s nakedness! That results in a curse!
Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV) 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:
- Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
- Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
- Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
- Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
- Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
- Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
- Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
- Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
- Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
- Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?
Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.
So, if someone is aggressive, bold, focused, not easily approachable, confrontational, controversial, troubling or intent on tearing down false ideologies that people hold dear, does that reveal a lack of love? Not according to the Bible. In fact, they may love with such a passion that they are more focused on loving than on convincing people they love.
In our culture, love is defined in a way that is often different than what we see in scripture. For example, there is a false-love movement on the rise that presumes that relational friendship is a required manifestation of true love. I disagree. That false expectation will leave many wounded when one who does truly love them doesn’t show it the way they would prefer. Offense will follow and division, hard hearts and cold love are next.
This is an eternal issue! We cannot allow false expectations result in cold love! If others don’t love us the way we want, do we ourselves lose our love for them?
Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
I’ll say it again—true love doesn’t demand that others respond lovingly. True love is seen on the cross where Jesus didn’t demand any affirmation, friendship, encouragement or any outward manifestation of affection. We know from the encounter in the garden just prior to his arrest that he desired relational closeness, but he didn’t get offended when his friends slept while he sweat and bled.
True maturity comes from our garden experiences. If we can’t escape the lonely bleeding in the garden without offense toward unconcerned, selfish sleepers rising up in our hearts, how can we expect to take up our cross for them? Do we demand that they manifest love toward us, or do we simply love them unto death?
People who struggle with fear and rejection are often hit by the enemy regarding this. They so crave affirmation (which feels like love), that when they don’t get it it’s easy to accuse the person of not loving them. The problem? Affirmation and love are not the same. You can love someone without affirming them, befriending them or even talking to them!
John doesn’t love people
I told you I was going to lay it on the table!
This one hurts so deeply!
There was a situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground, “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense. I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.
Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that need due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day, and since that situation revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of ‘love’!
My initial split second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?
I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!
This was the same individual that had come to me with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”
If we try to convince people we “love” them, we won’t actually love them by administering true tough love, biblical discipline and challenges. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
This is the power of love languages at work. We can’t expect someone to respond in love according to our love language. They will naturally respond according to their love language.
Of course, we can try to reach out to people according to their love language, but, here’s the point I’m trying to make—a failure to manifest love according to another’s language doesn’t mean they don’t love—it means they aren’t expressing or manifesting love the way that seems obvious to us. That accusation must come to an end.
Can an introverted recluse so deeply love people he has never even met by writing checks for millions of dollars to charities? Yes! That is love though he would never hug you, seek friendship or even smile when you enter the room!
My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!
We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.
True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations
I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!
For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.
So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!
In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.
In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.
A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.
An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!
A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.
So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.
Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!
Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!
A one string banjo
As someone who’s not a pastor, I find myself, by design, extremely limited in my message. I’m a one string banjo. Maybe two string.
If I asked you what a particular pastor’s message is, you probably wouldn’t be able to answer. He will usually teach on many different topics.
But, if I were to ask you want John the Baptist’s message was, you’d have an answer—REPENT! PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Like John the Baptist, prophetic leaders are one string banjo players.
For me, EVERYTHING I do in ministry stems from one encounter and one message. After an encounter of being dragged toward Hell, God spoke this to me: John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
My love for mostly nameless, faceless people burns so hot that I simply cannot deviate from my message of warning. I am loving through provoking people into safety. I am, as someone used the terminology yesterday, a shock Christian. I’m a prophetic messenger that sees time running out.
The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally WAY off balance due to off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.
Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago: when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, 1000 people…people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes…I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person by person basis. It’s a spiritually analytical reality for me. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell PLUS many more others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?
In fact, I’ve often said that I give myself only an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, the Bible is clear that there will be a great falling away. Even the elect will be deceived. If I presume myself to be exempt from that, I am presuming myself to be among the elect—and I am surely deceived. I absolutely can fall away from Jesus, and I don’t take that lightly.
George Barna revealed in a recent poll that only 8% of Americans are Born Again. Only 4% have a biblical world view!
My mandate is simple—love people by communicating to them truth, sounding alarms and tearing down doctrines of demons and humanistic religious idols.
Additionally, as a prophetic Apostle, those warnings come with an invitation—to get equipped to do the same, and to run with me as I charge ahead. I’m looking for modern day Paul Reveres who will love people through shocking and shaking deadly systems!
Running with me will be a joy if you want to be rocked and challenged as your destiny is called out of you.
The label of “shock Christian” fits the movement I’m a part of. I’d rather you be shocked with truth now than shocked to find yourself in Hell one day.
I am extremely thoughtful, prayerful and boldly intentional with what I communicate. Do I always do it perfectly? No way. But I try. But, you can know that I love you deeply and will be in prayer continually as I get the ‘now message’ of the Lord. The message will probably trouble you at times. It is supposed to. The paddles must be placed on ALL of us at times to shock to life a dying part of our lives.
You may wonder why I don’t deviate from this approach. I hope you now know why.
And, let me say this. I think it’s an indictment on our passive, timid culture when, what I consider to be mildly jarring truths, seem to be so extreme and impacting. It’s an indictment on the church when truth is shunned when it troubles or causes discomfort. What I post, honestly, is simple, old school Christianity. I’m saddened that people find it drastic—but so be it. I will continue preaching it until drastic becomes normal again.
Here are the notes for TONIGHT’S teaching on Prophetic Messengers
Listen LIVE TONIGHT at 7pm EDT here: www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/live
If you stumble across this after the fact, go to http://media.johnburton.net and search for the first teaching in the series Prophetic Messengers!
If you are within 100 miles of Detroit—LEAVE HOME NOW and join us! The fire of God is all over me! Tonight is going to be significant.
**After the notes, I will include info about joining our leadership team at the Detroit Prayer Furnace. We are seeking 40+ people who will give leadership to the prayer movement!
I. The voices must be heard! The power of life and death is in the tongue!
a. Now, more than ever, the remnant must get a clue! Rise up! Open your mouths!
i. This means you! You are a prophetic messenger! You declare truth!
ii. Wake up with the call to impact burning in you!
iii. The church is silent. Christians are posting sweet nothings on Facebook when we must be provoking and awakening a numb church that has no sense of spiritual violence and is little threat to the enemy.
iv. Most don’t post truth for two reasons:
1. They don’t want to offend friends and family.
2. They don’t hear from the Lord.
v. Joe Sazyc: Prophets are always victims of those who didn't like their message.
vi. Generally, prophetic churches don't get very big. The prophetic ain't popular. People like prophets from a distance. That doesn't mean they don't have impact. ~Joe Sazyc
1. The impact you have may not draw the people you want to you. It will probably repel people you care about from you. But you WILL have impact!
2. Some friends and family will probably cut off relationship with you!
vii. Luke 14:25-28 (ESV) 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
1. ESV Study Bible : “Hating” is a Semitic expression for loving less.
2. Scofield: All terms which define the emotions or affections are comparative. Natural affection is to be, as compared with the believer's devotedness to Christ, as if it were hate.
3. We see the same expression when God said, “Jacob I have loved but Essau I have hated.”
a. We must proclaim truth knowing that it will absolutely enrage people you love! It is for their freedom!
4. Follow people like Isaiah Saldivar. His entire Twitter feed is one provoking prophetic decree after another! He’s on a mission! He’s 22!
5. Some of his posts:
a. “If you don't think being holy is important than you don't think seeing God is important.”
b. “No amount of false teaching will be able to widen the narrow road.”
c. “Not being on time is saying your time is more important than someone else's.”
d. “God cannot trust you with a stage if you struggle to show up to church on time.”
e. “Don't envy those who God promotes and expect a promotion.”
f. “We have lost the spirit of conviction due to fear of condemning people.”
g. “I know countless people who preach on revival and awakening. I know few who are willing to pay the price.”
h. “If your revelation of joy is laughter in church you have sold yourself short.”
i. “We should be more sensitive to how the Holy Spirit feels than how people feel.”
j. “If we were really sensitive to seekers our services would be longer not shorter.”
k. “Jesus is coming back for a church not a relevant movement.”
m. “It would be interesting to see people express their opinions in real life and not just behind a keyboard.”
viii. Messengers arise! Get the word of the Lord hour after hour! Burn! And shout those messages from the rooftops!
1. Every Christian on the planet should have a Twitter and Facebook and Youtube account…and should take media over with never-ending proclamations of truth!
ix. With the situation in Syria upon us, we have no option but to open our mouths!
1. Saw a vision of a sudden Revolutionary War…a shaking that provoked the people who were working in their fields to pick up their guns and fight.
2. Are you ready?
3. You have the authority to DEMAND COMPLIANCE and to decree order!
II. Break Down and Build Up
a. Jeremiah 1:4-10 (ESV) 4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
i. Number One: The word of the Lord came to me.
1. This must happen now for the remnant!
2. The prophetic atmosphere must skyrocket!
3. Sheep must hear God’s voice!
4. The prayer movement is key!
ii. Number Two: We are known by God and appointed by God.
1. We are assigned!
2. Do you participate in church or ministry due to assignment or opportunity?
3. Your answer will determine your readiness.
iii. Number Three: We have no excuse!
1. Don’t say I’m only a youth, I’m only a housewife, I’m not educated, I can’t speak!
iv. Number Four: We will speak what the Lord commands us to
v. Number Five: Have no fear
vi. Number Six: God has touched our mouths and appointed us over nations!
III. Jeremiah Continued
a. Jeremiah 1:11-19 (ESV) 11 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
i. Dake: A staff for striking, made from an almond tree. Here it symbolizes a watchman, a vigilant officer looking for the invasion of Judah by Babylon.
ii. God is setting up watchmen!
iii. We can’t be an echo, we must be a voice. What is God saying?
iv. His Words are being delivered…are you receiving them?
1. He’s watching over his word, not ours! We can’t pray amiss!
v. ESV Study Bible : Jeremiah can expect that when he speaks God’s words, the words will come true.
vi. Do you have that confidence?
b. 13 The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15
i. Life Application Study Bible: The pot of boiling water tipping from the north and spilling over Judah pictured Babylon delivering God's scalding judgment against Jeremiah's people.
ii. Boiling pot: An Oriental symbol of a raging war.
iii. How can America oppose the chemical massacre of 426 Syrian children & support the chemical massacre of 4000 American children a day?
c. For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the LORD, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah.
i. God so loved his people that their rebellion put his eternity with them at risk.
ii. If God’s methods of allowing enemies of his people to attack were valid then, certainly it’s valid now.
iii. It’s interesting that God sent enemies to the gates.
1. Cindy Williams: The Lord said; “an unholy triad of deception is forming, watch Russia, Iran and North Korea.”
2. Prov. 8:34 “Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.
3. Rick Warzywak: The Lord is supernaturally rousing intercessors and watchmen from their sleep and giving them the charge to fulfill their calling to stand alert and serve as “early warning systems” in the spirit.
4. James Goll: We urged our state leaders to call their states to focused prayer over ports and naval bases, including Annapolis, and the eastern gate of the US.
5. Cindy Jacobs: It is clear that we are in need of better “intelligence,” greater clarity, and the need for those who stand guard over our nation to be awake and alert. This is not a time to be asleep, confused or distracted!
6. Cindy Jacobs: Please agree with us in prayer and continue to decree a supernatural watchman anointing over our intelligence community, border agents, customs, the coast guard, the military, and police, in particular for those who stand guard over our ports along the eastern seaboard. In addition to this, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that war would be averted in the Arab world.
7. Cindy Williams: I'm looking at the earthquake world map. I studied this area for a year, so am a little familiar with what it normally looks like and it's trends so what caught my eye today was that ALL the major plates have been shaking and are 6.0 or 6.6 (number of man).
d. 16 And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.
i. Dake: God always makes the reasons for His judgments clear, in time for men to avoid them if they will listen. Four reasons for judgment here:
2. Forsaking God
a. Leonard Ravenhill: We have forsaken God, we have forsaken the prayer rooms.
3. Burning incense to other gods
a. Burning Man: Aug 26-Sept 2
b. 50,000 people
4. Worshiping the works of their own hands
ii. Ephesians 5:3-17 (ESV) 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [THIS IS HUGE! WE MUST EXPOSE DARKNESS!] 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
1. This is huge!
e. Jer 1:17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.
i. It’s time to work!
ii. It’s about the assignment not the opportunity!
1. ESV: He must not be dismayed by them (his foes) as he works, or God will give him over to their terrors.
f. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”
i. God is purging, purifying, and he will prevail if we aren’t dismayed!
JOIN THE CORE AT THE DETROIT PRAYER FURNACE
One of the greatest fears man has is that of failure. It invites scrutiny, accusation and mocking—but society’s greatest leaders embrace a culture of failure!
You can order Piece of Cake here: https://burton.tv/resources
A culture of failure? Yes!
The goal isn’t to look like you know what you are doing, the goal is to experiment, try, fail, try again, grow, have epiphanies, gain knowledge, fail again and ultimately succeed!
I implement a strategy in ministry called “Rapid Prototyping.” Simply, the moment a concept is conceived, there are immediate steps taken to initiate it—fully understanding that early experiments will most probably fail, but the knowledge and experience gained are critical.
Here’s a chapter from my recent book, Piece of Cake. This book is in itself an example of rapid prototyping. I received the download of an idea, designed the cover and wrote the first few chapters within hours! The entire project from conception to having an edited, printed copy from the publisher in my hands was less than three weeks!
I encourage you to try, fail, try, fail and try again! Here’s the chapter titled, Sweet Failure:
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” (attributed to Thomas Edison)
Edison, when queried by a reporter about the seemingly incredible difficulties associated with his work on the lightbulb rebutted, “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb.” (attributed to Thomas Edison)
If we understand the scope of our project, it’s actually quite insane to presume we will accomplish it without significant and repeated failures.
In fact, the inventors of the famed lubricant WD-40 were so unintimidated by failure, that they actually included it in the name of their product. If you knew you’d fail thirty-nine times and succeed one, would you proceed?
In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry, in a small lab in San Diego, California. It took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD–40®—which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try—is still in use today. (quoted from www.wd40.com)
Yes, you are going to fail. Go ahead and wrestle with it now, you can’t avoid it. I don’t mean ultimate failure, of course. But, I do mean that you will pray much, do your best to gain insight from God, consider your best options, seek wisdom from others and then move out with at least a measure of confidence—and you will experience failure!
Thomas Edison could have named his light bulb, Lightbulb–1000! Maybe you can name the church you are considering planting First Church–100! Failure should not intimidate you! People will presume you to be inadequate, confused or immature during your experimenting.
Most young ministers crave for others to see them as successful and steady with a pipeline directly into the command center of Heaven. The reality? We see in part. We understand little. We have clarity on a small part of the big picture, and when we initiate action, others will watch as we stumble and struggle. Are you OK with that?
Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” (Quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist’s Year in Silicon Valley (2001) by Christine Finn. p. 90)
Your job is not to be so careful that you avoid failure, it’s to be instant in obedience! In fact, failure is sweet when you learn how to handle the pressure it brings. Failure is an effective and desirable teacher. You may actually find yourself enjoying the various failures you experience, as a researcher would in a laboratory, in your pursuit toward efficiency and success. Really, the main thing standing in the way of the sweetness of failure is pride. If our goal is to impress people instead of developing ministries that set them free, we have no business even considering entering into a ministry project. We need to mature a little bit more first.
I stumbled across a blog article that I thought was interesting. It does a good job of explaining how to quickly initiate and develop a project:
“We only win in the long run by getting out there and bloodied in the short run.” (attributed to Tom Peters)
This blog is an example of rapid prototyping.
One week ago this blog did not exist except for a few ideas in my head so I thought it would be helpful to show how I went from step one to launch for very little time and money.
Now I own about 25 film books to every business book I have, but I think I first learned about rapid prototyping from Tom Peters. Some have called Thomas Edison “the father of prototyping,” but I imagine it goes back to a time closer to starting the first fire or inventing the wheel.
What is rapid prototyping? In filmmaking terms, it’s Edward Burns having a meeting at the end of 2010 with the Tribeca Film Festival people and coming up with an idea that he should make a feature to show for the festival’s 10th year and a few months later the film is written, cast, shot, edited and premiered. In an industry where the typical film can be in development for 3 to 5 years before it gets produced (or dies in development) Burns’ Newlyweds is definitely prototyping. Sylvester Stallone writing Rocky in six days is an example of rapid prototyping.
In the manufacturing world, a team of people may be put in charge of a project to design a widget quickly to meet a need in the marketplace. Rapid prototyping is messy business as it tends to follow the motto “fail early, fail often.” Because in the failing is where breakthroughs happen. (Scott W. Smith, efilmmaking.wordpress.com)
It’s always at least a little interesting hearing about someone else’s failures, and how they grew through them. When my wife and I moved to Colorado Springs to begin the process of starting a church, we honestly had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t have any money set aside for our church plant and we weren’t sent out by an organization. It was simply a boots on the ground venture. We showed up and started into the trial and error process.
One of our first steps was to connect with the largest church in the area, a ministry that we absolutely loved. They had a massive, vibrant small group ministry, and we thought it would be good to at least connect there as we waited for clarity on when to actually start the church. So, we attended the small group leader training and started planning our new small group. We were excited! We weren’t starting our own church yet, but we didn’t care. We wanted to connect with some new friends who shared our values, and we wanted to support the ministry of that church.
The weekend of the huge ministry fair came. This is where small group leaders were given a booth somewhere on the campus of the church where people could stop by before and after the Sunday services and get information about the various groups. Our booth was one of the best! We had looping video, excellent information and a powerful vision. It felt like a slam dunk!
Well, since this chapter is about failure, you know what’s coming! We were given one of the rooms in the church to hold our small group meeting as we hadn’t gotten settled in our own home yet. We prepared for the group and arrived early to setup.
When it was about 6:45pm, we had expected at least a few people to arrive early, but nobody did. At 6:55pm, we peeked down the long hallway to see how many people were walking toward our room. There were none. At straight up 7pm, Amy and I started to feel sadness rolling in, and by 7:15pm our dreams were fully crushed. At 7:30pm we packed up and snuck out with our tails between our legs, defeated.
We mustered up the courage to do the same thing the following week, just in case some people got the news of our amazing group a little late. This time by 7:05pm, we exited the building and went out for a lonely dinner, just Amy and me. Sweet failure didn’t feel so sweet that night. The group ended as fast as it started.
But, of course, we could not give up—though we did adjust our sails. We ended up launching Revolution Church a while later in our small living room with our family and a couple of other new friends. From there we grew into a 700 square foot building which held around 25 people, and then into a 2,000 square foot building where we peaked at 70, and finally into a 20,000 square foot building where we regularly ran around 100 in a very difficult region that was steeped in the occult. You see, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, at least 14 churches have started and failed in their first two years since the 1980’s. Revolution Church thrived.
One of the most prevalent issues that I come across on a regular basis as I talk to emerging leaders is the fear of missing God. Often people feel led to initiate a ministry, or to make a move in that direction, but they are afraid of being outside of God’s plan. This is a legitimate concern, but fear should not drive us. Wisdom should.
There was a time when I was living the life as a youth pastor in a church in the San Diego area. It was amazing! I was at the beach every Thursday and had a stress free, invigorating position in the church. I had full liberty to develop the youth department according to my vision and ideas. After a year and a half in that church I was offered a position in a large church in the Dallas area. It was a completely different environment, and making such a move would be a huge decision. I felt I had confirmation and I was excited about the possibilities this new opportunity presented, but I was afraid of missing God.
A good friend of mine gave me some of the simplest yet most profound and life changing advice I had ever received. He simply quoted scripture and said, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.”
The revelation was instant. If I was living a righteous life, and was making righteous decisions, God would order my steps—even if and when I made a misstep! The fear and pressure of making a right versus a wrong decision lifted off of me! I have used that counsel countless times in my life since. When I feel led to make a decision, I ensure I’m living in righteousness and am doing my due diligence through prayer and seeking counsel, and then I step! I trust that God will direct my steps, and if I’m off track a little bit, he will lovingly guide me back. It’s really a glorious way to live!
As I do this, I am fully confident that a lot of sweet failure is ahead of me, and I learn how to stay joyful and teachable as I learn from every ministry experiment.
Keep in mind, I am not advising a haphazard life. That will only cause you unnecessary frustration. Measure your decisions and step according to wisdom as you live in the spirit, and refuse to fear knowing that both temporary failures and ultimate victory are both ahead!
I’ve heard it said that we should make quick, pretty good decisions as opposed to calculated, perfect ones. Using this book as an example, I could have pulled out various resources, created a perfect outline, pondered it for a few months and eventually start writing. But, instead, my quick, pretty good decision has resulted in writing chapter two just one day after I started designing and writing the book. If my schedule allows, I can have this entire book written, in less than perfect but fully acceptable form, in just a few days! I’m literally sitting here in the prayer room unsure of what I will write next, but that’s OK. My goal is to pour out my heart, get the message out and move on to the next project sooner than later.
I have no fear of failure. Many will enjoy this book, many won’t get past the first chapter and many will think it’s a ridiculous concept and never pick it up. That is OK! There are people who will be unlocked into their destiny and that is all that matters!
I’ll share another failure with you. I value the advance of the Kingdom through church and house of prayer planting. I personally love the process of starting with nothing and watching God build a ministry that truly touches lives.
While leading Revival Church in the Detroit region, my family and I moved about thirty minutes north into a more rural area by the apple orchards. It is a different environment than where our church is, and I felt the birthing and planting bug start to buzz in me again. So, we planted Revival Church North in my living room.
We met for several weeks on Sunday mornings and drew a handful of interested people, but, I could sense early on that the necessary traction wasn’t there. Just as quickly as I decided to plant the church, I punted. It was fourth down and we could go for it or we could admit failure and move on to the next project. If I was walking in pride, I would have fought to keep it going, but, rather, it was easy for me to let it go. That plant failed. So what? Clearly it wasn’t meant to be, or the timing was off, and that’s OK. Believe it or not, I lost literally zero emotional energy through that process. I woke up the next day and refocused, prayed more and talked to God about next steps. There was still much burning in me and there are missions to attend to.
Thomas Edison said, “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.” (Statement in a press Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (conference (1929), as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with 1987) by James D. Newton, p. 24)
If there is a need that you are picking up on, get to work! Trial and error are both your friend! Don’t allow an insecurity to keep you from being the one that God wants to use to bring transformation, whether it’s in leading a Sunday School class, developing a Kingdom business, starting a church or doing anything else God is leading you to do!
Remember Gideon? All he knew was that he was the weakest and the least, yet all God called him was mighty man of valor! Gideon was cowardly, as was his entire community. They were in hiding from their enemy, afraid of losing their crops, their livelihood. They were experiencing failure after failure and their confidence was gone.
Judges 6:14-16 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
This is God’s call to you! Don’t fear opposition! Don’t fear failure! God had ordered your steps you mighty man of valor! Don’t wait for others to affirm you–you will be waiting for decades possibly! Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Gideon advanced with one percent of the army available to him and told them to blow their trumpets and smash their jars. That doesn’t sound like a good plan at all, but it was what God led them to do. God has a Gideon’s army waiting for you to have the courage to respond immediately as an insignificant person with an insignificant plan and an insignificant army to lead them into their destiny! Those who perceive themselves to be insignificant are but a moment away from initiating a move of God that will be felt throughout the city!
Remember that failure is an event, not a person. ~Zig Ziglar
A brand new series by John Bevere, The Holy Spirit: An Introduction, starts TONIGHT at the Detroit Prayer Furnace!
TONIGHT, Monday, September 2nd at 7pm we will begin a powerful new teaching by John Bevere on the Holy Spirit. Join us!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
The Holy Spirit is frequently misunderstood, leaving many clueless about who He is and how He expresses Himself to us. He is often portrayed as something “weird.” But the Bible makes it clear that the Spirit is not something. He is someone—a Person who has promised to never leave your side. In this curriculum, John Bevere invites you into a personal discovery of the most ignored and misunderstood Person in the Church: the Holy Spirit.