DOWNLOAD NOW: Revival Games – Our Misguided Passion For Revival
Of course, God is moving in unique and legitimate ways in various small pockets all over the world, but not on a regional level anywhere in America.
I propose a primary reason this is the case is the focus of our efforts.
Most are seeking after glory meetings, soaking sessions and sign and wonder events instead of zeroing in on the costly, sobering, prophetic call to repent, consecrate and lay down our lives.
game noun – An active interest or pursuit; activity engaged in for diversion or amusement
Revival is not a game designed for our amusement.
Revival demands an extreme lifestyle of surrender, intercession and a precise, searing laser focus.
Would I minister anywhere God led, regardless of financial benefit?
That was the question I had to answer when responding to the call to ministry over 24 years ago. If I ever allowed the thought that I was God’s “special chosen one” to enter my mind, I would be disqualified on the spot. My service must be just that—service. That’s what ministry is. It is a commitment to serve with no thought of personal gain. My passion must be for the transformed lives that are hanging in the balance! They are my motivation!
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment… Romans 12:3
The thought of analyzing just how financially beneficial a particular ministry opportunity might be is actually quite sobering for me—the fear of the Lord rests on me quite heavily. The idea that I may be tempted to choose one assignment over another based on money is enough to drive me to my knees in preemptive repentance, if there is such a thing! I can’t allow the enemy’s offer of material gain to weigh on me whatsoever.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Matthew 4:8-10
Snake oil salesman showed up in America’s historic towns on wagons filled with tonics and elixirs. Their motivation was not making sick people well. It was actually the exact same motivation the money changes in the temple had:
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13
The money changers’ sin was simple—they attempted to use God’s temple for personal gain. They were focused on making a profit. This resulted in one of Jesus’ most violent reactions, and I believe a similar reaction is coming to a corrupt ministry scheme today. Notice how Jesus immediately restored the temple to it’s proper function in the very next verse:
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. Matthew 21:14
Snake oil ministers aren’t looking to heal the sick or save the lost as much as they are attempting to build their own ministries. For some it’s clear and intentional deception. For others it’s simple compromise that results in a focus on prosperity.
Brian Ming included the following lyric in one of his worship songs:
God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.
That’s snake oil ministry.
Over the last few decades I’ve traveled to regions to launch local ministries and also as an itinerant minister, and the principle remains the same—go where God sends you. The decision on where to go is much easier when you eliminate irrelevant arguments against the move. Listen to God’s voice and respond immediately. Don’t think about money, don’t take the prosperous road. Just go.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10
If God tells you to go somewhere that will cost you instead of benefit you, will you go?
A year and a half ago I had scheduled a very important ministry trip. Their ministry was struggling and my assignment was to show up, rally support and encourage people to financially sow into their mission. I knew going in that I wouldn’t be receiving a cent, and I was thrilled to serve with that in mind. I actually rented a van and drove 24 hours with my team to this critical assignment. The mission was mine and God made that clear.
Just after I made the commitment, I received, entirely out of the blue, a last minute invitation to replace another speaker (who had to cancel) at a large conference in an influential, sizable church in the UK. All expenses would be paid and I’m sure the honorarium would have been wonderful. That surely would have been a fun and powerful trip! I immediately replied with my regrets, thanking them for the offer. I had to decline.
The reason I share that story isn’t to trumpet my own valiant decision. I simply want to communicate just how easy that decision was. When God speaks, every other voice and every other invitation loses significance. If God is sending you somewhere as an itinerant minister, NEVER consider the financial reward, the accommodations, the size of the platform or other benefits. That is a prostitution of your service. We are called to lay down our lives, expecting nothing in return.
Might I suggest to other itinerant ministers, if you have lost the passion for investing into people and are thinking more about mesmerizing and entertaining the crowds, you should probably step away for a season. To grab the mic, shout your lungs out and then disappear into the green room just won’t cut it anymore. God won’t allow snake oil to replace the oil of the Holy Spirit.
When I travel it’s extremely important that I capture the vision that God has for that region. If I don’t own that vision, why would I even be called on to serve there? I have my strategic intercession team spend hours on conference calls where they pray together and receive prophetic direction from the Lord. They then forward that on to me just before I head out. They then shift to covering me in intercession as I travel and minister. They also own the vision, even they they aren’t on the trip with me. My team is amazing, and I believe a model for itinerant intercession. Their investment matches my own and I would suggest we need to even go further. The places I go burn on my heart before and after I leave.
If I lose that passion, it will be time for me to step away.
A pastor recently shared with me the experience his church had with a rather well known itinerant minister. The guest preached, received a large offering and moved on. There was no relational investment into the people. The report from the body was that they just sowed significant finances into someone who just preached at them for an hour. That’s it. That minister probably doesn’t realize it, but he apparently won’t be returning.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Matthew 10:5-14
I received an invitation to minister at a church in Houston recently. I listened to one of their young ministers teaching with unbridled passion out of my book 20 Elements of Revival. He was owning that message maybe even more than I was! I was provoked! Soon after, the pastor wanted to let me know something that he felt would cause me to cancel. They only had four members.
All I could think about was that powerful message by that young man. The numbers didn’t matter at all! He told me that they were yearning for some consulting and investment into their ministry. I told him that all he had to do was get me there, keep me there, feed me there and get me home. If they wanted to take an offering for me, that would be nice. My heart was to eliminate as many hurdles to a fulfilled assignment as possible.
I didn’t care if I slept on the floor, ate beans or had a small offering—I was craving to serve and pray with them! I was passionate for revival in a city that was not my own!
Again, I knew that if I allowed finances to make an entrance into my decision making process, I’d risk joining the ranks of the snake oil salesmen. I must believe that God is my provider, not the people I’m serving.
Might I suggest to all of you itinerant ministers a simple protocol:
- Communicate what your travel expenses are, and request that they are covered.
- Request a love offering of any size be received for you.
- Go at your own expense if God calls you to.
- Be willing to sleep on the floor, eat little and minister to any sized crowd without a minimum required honorarium.
If you’d like to take a look at my personal booking form, which includes a lot of specific communication, you can do so here: www.johnburton.net/booking.
LET’S TAKE A LOOK FROM THE OTHER SIDE
If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 1 Corinthians 9:11
In addition to spending a lot time traveling as an itinerant minister, I have also led local ministries for years. I know what the other side of the coin looks like.
I’m not saying I have mastered hosting out of town guest ministers—others have hosted me more elegantly than I have done so myself—but I have learned to value the importance of honoring them as well as I can.
As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians, material blessing is expected. We should do all we can to ensure guest ministers are leaving town honored and financially prosperous. The responsibility to provide financial blessing is to be handled by the host church, not by the itinerant minister. Paul knew this as well:
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights… 1 Corinthians 9:12-15
We need to understand that a typical itinerant minister has four paydays per month, and they always fall on a weekend. What I mean is, if they are with you on a single Sunday morning, they have surrendered one fourth of their workable days to you. This means that they need one fourth of their monthly expenses to be covered by you. Paul also understood this.
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come… 1 Corinthians 16:2-3
Itinerant ministers aren’t being paid for only one hour of preaching. They have given more than that. They have invested much by leaving their family, expending energy as they travel, paying for their food on the road, sleeping in unfamiliar beds and, possibly most importantly, stepping out in faith believing that God would provide their every need.
If their monthly family budget (you know, money to pay for their teenage monsters to devour entire sides of beef, braces for crooked teeth, Christmas presents, car payments, vacations, toilet paper, shoes, etc.) is $6000 a month, that means anything less than $1500 puts them in a compromised position. It’s usually their spouse who is handling the bills and taking care of precious and wild kids who gets hit the most when the finances aren’t coming in. Being an itinerant minister is an extremely challenging life and I want to do my best to relieve the financial pressure from them and their family.
If we have someone come in, and we aren’t confident a sufficient offering will come in, we will communicate very clearly before they commit to the trip that the finances may not be what is necessary for them to live on. I don’t want them to leave with a sad surprise.
I have found that people love to give, especially when I tell them 100% of the offering will be going to the guest speaker (after expenses are covered). If one million dollars comes into the offering, the church receives nothing and the guest is now a millionaire! I believe this approach deals with any scrutiny that may be in people’s minds when giving. They love the fact that they are able to have 100% of their gift go directly to the guest!
I also want to honor the guest’s time and other needs as they travel. If they are most comfortable being left alone most of the time, I will set them up in a comfortable place and leave them be. I find that most itinerant ministers prefer a lot of down time to re-energize and spend time with the Lord. Others may want to hang out for each meal and after the service. If that’s the case, I’ll be at their beck and call!
A gift basket is a great way to bless someone who has been traveling all day and, instead of heading out to eat after they get off the airplane, they can go to their room, jump in a cool, clean bed and chomp down on bananas, candy and nuts!
The point of this entire article is that we are to serve, to minister.
If we honor other well, and refuse to use them or withhold from them, the Kingdom of God will truly advance with great integrity and power.
We are going to need the circuit riders to hit the road again, completely unhindered.
For the circuit rider, they must head out without any excuse or hindrance.
For the host ministry, they must honor the man or woman of God with excellence.
Larry Randolph shares his prophetic journey with Sid Roth, as well as offering stark new prophecies for America, Israel and the world.
from Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://ift.tt/1vE0Bcv
In an outrageous act of overreach that the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) rightly branded "an inquisition" and a "witch hunt," the city of Houston has demanded that certain pastors preaching on themes relating to homosexuality and gender identity turn their sermons over to the government for inspection.
It was bad enough when Mayor Annise Parker undermined the will of the state by campaigning nationally for the redefinition of marriage when the people of Texas had declared in overwhelming fashion that they did not want marriage redefined.
And it was bad enough when she began to refer to her partner as the "first lady." (What does that make Mayor Parker?)
But it went beyond bad when Parker made clear that getting an LGBT ordinance passed in Houston was an "intensely personal" thing to her. Yes, she said, "The debate is about me. … It's not academic. It is my life that is being discussed."
What happened to her being an elected official who was put in office to serve the people? What of the massive outpouring of calls to other elected officials protesting the bill?
As the Rev. Max Miller of the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity stated in response to Parker's public comments, "One thing we did hear: It's personal. You cannot represent the people of this city on a personal matter."
Or, as expressed by conservative City Councilman Michael Kubosh, also responding directly to Parker in the same public meeting, "I know you say it's about you, but, mayor, this is really about all of us. It's not really about you; it's about everybody here."
At the heart of the opposition to the bill was concern expressed over the transgender bathroom ordinance. This would allow anyone who identified as transgender to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of their biological sex, thereby ignoring the rights of a multitude of women and men who would find this a real intrusion.
As noted by Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community Church and an Executive Committee member of the Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC), "Forcing women in particular using city facilities to be subjected to cross-dressing men invading their privacy is beyond the pale and offensive to every standard of decency."
The bill also would open the door to potential sexual predators who could use this ordinance as a guise for their perversion.
Unfortunately, Parker was able to push the bill through, despite the opposition, also succeeding in having a petition thrown out that challenged the bill. (It appears that the petition was wrongly rejected as well.)
Now, in a ridiculous attempt to retaliate against those pastors and bully them, Parker's office is demanding that these Christian leaders turn over their sermon texts relating to homosexuality and transgender issues. Pastor Riggle was even "ordered to hand over ‘all communications with members of your congregation' regarding the non-discrimination law."
For good reason, the ADF stated that the mayor's actions were "overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious," and they should be flatly rejected for those very reasons. As the ADF explained, "the city is illegitimately demanding that the pastors … turn over their constitutionally protected sermons and other communications simply so the city can see if the pastors have ever opposed or criticized the city."
In light of this egregious example of gay-activist bullying—the very kind that I and others have documented for years now—I urge every pastor in the city of Houston to address the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism this Sunday, announcing this for the entire world to hear but at the same time, refusing to obey the unrighteous decree of Mayor Parker's office to turn your sermons over for government scrutiny. (This should be done respectfully, in the spirit of Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29.)
I also urge every congregational member in Houston to tell your pastors that you are standing with them, encouraging them to stand up for what is right in the face of bullying and intimidation.
To my fellow leaders in Houston and around America, let's seize this moment and use it for the glory of God, preaching His love for all people and His real interest in those who identify as LGBT while at the same time proclaiming that His ways are best, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that gender distinctives are not to be discarded or despised.
You have been given a unique opportunity in American history. Now is your time to shine boldly, publicly and without shame.
We are all standing with you.
Michael Brown is the author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
from Charisma Magazine | Informing Christians from Spirit-filled Perspective. http://ift.tt/1DjwKXG
from Ask Dr. Brown http://ift.tt/1oh0FN9
The current danger in the world demands an immediate shift of strategy for the church.
Cheerleading and positive motivation has become today’s preferred substitute for prophetic decrees, and the church is fading away as a result.
The world has entered a season of great danger and the church must respond aggressively and unapologetically with a bold prophetic thrust.
I have no desire to gently encourage people to consider the possibility of going deeper in the place of prayer. I’m declaring that it’s that or massive spiritual death in the nations of the Earth.
Either run with the remnant and initiate a prayer movement that is anchored on Sunday mornings or get out of the way.
Priests or Thieves?
And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Mark 11:17
How many leaders are functioning as thieves instead of priests?
Before you answer, consider how much of church life is strategically set up today in order to draw and keep people and the money they bring with them.
I asked my wife the other day if she thought we’d do anything different in our ministry if the need for tithes and offerings wasn’t there. She thought for a moment and then said, “No, I don’t believe we’d change a thing.”
That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.
You see, when the reformation in the church comes in full force, the high majority of people currently in our churches will run. The call will be too inconvenient and the cost too extreme. We won’t have entry level churches anymore that pander to a casually committed seeker looking for an enhancement to their lives.
Just as in the days of the early church, people will once again realize that the decision to follow Jesus very well may cost them their lives.
If your church cancelled every program, ever meeting, every service, every children’s event, every conference and did nothing for a year but pray in the Spirit and decree the Word of God, what would happen?
- Most would leave.
- Money would disappear.
- Pastor’s salaries would be lost.
- Church buildings would have to be sold.
- Complaining and gossip would skyrocket.
- Accusation and bitterness would fill the hearts of many.
- Revival would come.
The church is first and foremost a house of prayer. This means that prayer must be the driving force, the primary activity and the expected, continual function of every member.
A Christian who is not invested wildly in fervent prayer is in an eternally risky place. In fact, a non-praying Christian isn’t a Christian at all.
Non-praying Christians are the result of non-praying churches. Prayer drives people out and God in. Our American ego won’t allow for the appearance of failure that empty chairs would bring, so we invite the invisible God to leave instead in the hopes that the crowds of people will presume he is there by default.
And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22
1 Kings 18:17-18 (ESV) 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.
Is there anybody out there like Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson who is bringing attention to how so much of the church is following the Baals?
We need more troublers to arise! Why? Based on what we see in Elijah’s story, the prevailing culture is actually what is troubling the church and it’s the prophets of God that MUST stand boldly in the face of their accusations. Truth will prevail. God will answer by fire.
We can’t even call people to prayer today due to the fear that they will leave our churches! My God! How can we presume revival is near?
Over 340 Houses of Prayer closed their doors last year. I met with a house of prayer network leader the other day who said that people leave churches when leaders shift time, energy and attention from them to God. I’ve watched that happen myself, and it rips me up! In our church in Colorado we shifted from potlucks to prayer meetings and there was a mass exodus. We lost people and money. I had to get a part-time job. It was disruptive. It was heartbreaking that people ran from the call to pray.
Where are the ones who aren’t looking first for human friends, personal affirmation or a sense of belonging but who are seeking after every available minute to minister to God in prayer? The prayer rooms must be full—and the main prayer room in the American church is the Sunday morning sanctuary!
And, don’t you even think of using the excuse that you need to create a non-threatening environment for the new Believer! Every person, young or old, immature or seasoned must be in the prayer room—and it must be their primary focus! What if the Upper Room was toned down in the hopes of drawing a bigger crowd and interested seekers?
I told God one day many years ago that, if I responded to his call, I would lose my reputation. People would sever relationship with me and hurl accusations my way.
God said, “Good. My Son was of no reputation, why should you be?” I was rocked. It was that day, many years ago, that I stopped trying to look good and build a ministry and make people happy about running with me. Selfish ambition died that day. The moment we make decisions based mostly on attracting people, keeping people or raising money is the moment we have failed as leaders.
Philippians 2:7-8 (KJV) 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
I’m not trying to build a ministry—I’m devoted to obeying God and delivering the messages he has given me. I know these messages will directly hit theologies and ideals that so many hold dear. That’s the point. I crave people’s freedom from those harmful ideals! I desire the truth of Jesus to invade everybody’s life!
Matthew 10:34 (ESV) 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
One reason I’m OK with this divisive strategy (that Jesus affirmed above) is that it clearly reveals who’s for and who’s opposed. I’d rather make the message clear and know who I’m running with then to tone it down and have those who are opposed to it in our camp (Have you ever had a witch infiltrate your ministry? I have, and it’s not fun!). So, we love and serve everybody in the camp, but we can’t get sidetracked from our mission for the sake of their comfort.
Trust me, the resulting remnant of burning ones will rejoice at such an atmosphere of clarity and fire! Those who are lukewarm today just may awaken and burn tomorrow—if we have the courage to preach the very difficult, costly truth!
There are some people thanking me for my boldness in delivering the messages God gives me. There are others who are vocally opposed to me. There are many more still who are silent but resistant—many of them friends in the past who I don’t hear from anymore. They sadly just disappeared from our lives.
I’m sure there are some who translate boldness and refusal to soft step issues as arrogance—but I do not apologize. Yeah, I know that sounds arrogant! The reason I don’t apologize is because I wrestle with the call to humility continually, and I check my heart non-stop. The possibility of pride and arrogance is there, without question, and I take that very seriously. I check my heart to ensure I’m humble and full of love. It’s wisdom to receive insight from your critics, at least to a point!
People that are close to me do know my heart—and they know I’m broken before the Lord. My call is to aggressively sound alarms, gather people around the mission of revival and call people to pray night and day. It can’t be a soft spoken suggestion if we hope to awaken a great end-time army!
Several years ago in Colorado, the Lord directed me very urgently to learn how to walk in extreme humility and extreme boldness at the same time. It was full year of intense prayer and discovery—a personal school of the Holy Spirit. In that school, I learned much, including this—I was not to attempt to appear humble, I was to be humble. Why was this important? Because the Elijah level boldness that is required to impact a region would often look like anything but humility. It would appear as arrogance and selfish ambition.
We are not in a season where we need to gather around a table and water down the message in the hopes of finding common ground that results in handshakes and smiles. The message of the hour will overturn that table with violence.
I endeavor to love every person deeply, but I refuse to affirm systems, methodologies, theologies and lifestyles that are an offense to the Word of God. I will, in humility and boldness, be relentless in provoking the sleepers to awaken and those given to a lukewarm life to be shaken. Prophetic threats against human systems and unholy altars results in accusation, gossip and resistance.
Judges 6:28-31 (ESV) 28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.”
I know the accusations will continue, but you need to know that, if you are bold, you will provoke. You must be OK with that! Love people deeply, hate the enemy powerfully and know there will be a crisis in the middle as God, people and demons step into the ring. Don’t wrestle against flesh and blood! Be innocent! But, don’t presume a passive spirit is the same thing as a humble spirit.
With this in mind, lets look at three churches that are endangering millions of prayerless people:
THREE DANGEROUS CHURCHES: How Compromised Church Movements Put Our Salvation At Risk
There are different types of churches that millions of Americans are a part of—that are at significant risk. I challenge you to read this book in its entirety and prayerfully consider, in humility, whether you may have fallen into one of these at risk groups. I must also wrestle with this myself.
I’m disturbed. That’s not news, really, as I was created to carry the burden of God for the Bride—his Church. This results in a life of both continual joy and non-stop grieving—and never-ending bold calls of consecration.
The dissatisfaction with God in our nation has resulted in an attempted upgrade—a 2.0 version of God that meets our demands and fits the picture of the perfect leader. Always happy. Always nice to us. Always working to fulfill our desires. Not inconvenient. His personality matches what we expect in a God.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” Exodus 32:7-8
The previous verse reveals the motive of the people:
And 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. Exodus 32:6
The Hebrews were not satisfied with the current version of God, so their 2.0 upgrade was in the form of a golden calf—a god of their own design.
After all, God’s purpose is to perform as we expect him to, right? He is mostly interested in our desires to eat, drink and play, isn’t he?
My God, how far has the church fallen?
The warning of Exodus 32 should really begin a chapter earlier.
The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” Exodus 31:1-11
Just how were they able to craft the golden calf? God himself gave Bezalel the Spirit of God, ability, intelligence and knowledge and all craftsmanship. God’s anointing, if you will, resulted in Bezalel and his men having the ability to craft another god. This is what we are seeing today. People who have been gifted and anointed by God are forming movements, idols, that are attractive to people. This should cause us great concern. Everything that looks beautiful, effective and anointed is not approved by God. Much of it is an abomination.
Entire movements in our nation have upgraded God to their 2.0 version, and have successfully seduced millions of Christians to abandon the old, outdated, ancient Jesus. The arguments of the emergents have infiltrated the mainline church in America.
Before I continue, I have to make an important point. When bold truth is revealed that threatens the status quo of the church, it’s common for those who are invested in that system to accuse the messenger of being unloving or unconcerned for the Bride of Christ.
How opposite the reality truly is!
It’s deep, troubling love that causes those who are broken over the compromised Bride to sound alarms and shine lights to shake and wake a church that’s in extreme risk of living forever without the Bridegroom!
We must be concerned not for the personal desires and perspectives of those who presume to identify with the Bride, but for God himself and his desire for those who are lukewarm or deceived to pursue him with passion!
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if over one-half of the true church fell away in the end-times. This should shock us into reality.
This, my friend, is why we must risk offense to let an at risk Bride understand just what is at stake. Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. That reality haunts me non-stop.
The False Bride
Do we understand that not everybody who calls themselves a Christian actually is? Again, that is why we have an urgent job as forerunners. The false bride, those who think they are Christians but are not, are at extreme risk of burning in Hell for multiplied trillions of years. Actually, forever. We cannot remain silent.
An immediate and unbiblical response that many people have today is, “It’s not your place to judge.” How many times have you heard that defense from the secular camp? Now, we are hearing it from Christians when their pet sins, false doctrines or structures are threatened!
The accusation is that we are being cruel, unloving or presumptuous by dealing with this subject matter. Again, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As Christians, we actually have a very serious responsibility to judge in love! It’s a part of our job description. Pure love of the Bride will reveal all that hinders love!
We absolutely have a responsibility to urgently warn, to release messages of awakening, to talk about eternity, about Heaven and Hell. We must call people to greater fervency. It’s love that demands this, yet so few are sounding alarms.
If I see a child wandering into oncoming traffic, I don’t really care so much about whether he chose to rebel by running into the street. I’m not thinking about his motives or his error of judgment. I just want to warn him so he isn’t crushed by a bus. Yes, it is that simple. It is that urgent.
At Risk Churches
With that in mind, I want to reveal some major church movements and expressions that are actually opposing the cross. The call of every single Christian is to hear God’s voice, to know him deeply and to intercede for the nations. You can gauge where the general church public is by calling a prayer meeting. The most elementary call for any Christian is to pray–and when Christians avoid the prayer room, it’s a revelation of just where we are as a church in this nation. Frightening.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if most people in the church in America are unsaved.
Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of American church goers are actually saved.
I heard someone once say, who had a heavenly encounter, that approximately only 1 in 1000 who die on any given day make it to Heaven. Possibly 99.9% go to Hell. That wouldn’t surprise me, and it grieves me beyond what I can bear. Those who follow God 2.0 would never support this statistic. He is benevolent and unconcerned with the condition of our hearts. There’s a ring of Universalism sounding from that camp–and millions are at risk of eternal torment because of it.
Mike Bickle said that the false-grace message, which is one of the leading causes of people being deceived as a false bride, is more dangerous than the issue of abortion and 54 million baby’s blood crying out in our nation!
Three Dangerous Churches
Listen closely! This is serious! My God, help us! Potentially millions of people who are absolutely convinced that they are saved are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition right now! Many more will fall away in the future! Who will warn them?
Before we look at the problem churches, we must consider this: We have to resist the urge to presume the current Sunday driven church structure is the biblical norm. If we think we’re functioning normally, we’ll resort to minor adjustments to that system instead of the destruction of it in favor of the introduction of the biblical church.
When we truly understand this, we’ll devote ourselves to the removal of man made systems and give ourselves to the development of the new.
Most people alive today have no idea what revival is. They have never experienced it. They have no grid for it. So, we default to what we have experienced and try to build on that faulty foundation.
1. The Money Changers Church
In Matthew, the passage that deals with the money changers follows immediately after another type of church that we’ll discuss next—the Triumphal Entry Church. I find it interesting that these two stories are back-to-back, and that they are events that are closely situated to the drama of the cross. Simply said, the cross of Christ is not only foreign, but resisted.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13
The money changers church is possibly the best representation of the current American/Western church. This is a serious issue. This is possibly the most severe and violent reaction from Jesus to a situation when he was still on the Earth.
Note how aggressively Jesus rebuked and resisted the money changers. Why is this?
They were fueled by a spirit of religion. Religion defined is man’s attempt to use God and his church to get what he wants. They were using the temple for personal gain. They were thinking about their own needs and desires instead of ministering to God. They went into the temple with the expectation of leaving with more than they entered with. The call to the church is for us to enter with an offering. A sacrifice. We leave with less than we entered with!
Today, prayer is nearly dead in the church. Additionally, even in churches that support prayer, if every service was cancelled and replaced with prayer meetings, there would be a mass exodus of disappointed people who aren’t getting their desires met.
In Acts, the “wait and pray” mandate was resisted by almost everybody. Thank God for 120 who weren’t waiting for a call from a pastor, a pat on the back or the perfect ministry center for their family. They showed up, laid down their agendas and changed the world.
I’ve said it probably thousands of times and I’ll say it again. Our false expectations of what a church should be are resulting in a defiled structure. The church isn’t a house of teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of friendships or even a house of musical worship. It’s a house of prayer first and foremost. The other focuses are important, but secondary at best. Would you stay in a church that prayed as their primary activity? Or would you get frustrated and leave if your demands weren’t met? Is it possible you may be functioning in a similar spirit as the money changers? You go to church to receive instead of to give?
Pastors know most would not stay, so they have all too often traded in their mantle of prophet for salesman. The church product has been altered, spruced up and packaged in a way to let the people know that they will receive the best bang for their buck if they come to their church.
This is grieving, and must end! I am looking for pavement people—those who aren’t looking for comfort, but will hit the pavement and cry out to God as they did in 2 Chronicles 7!!
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Long ago as a young, first time church planter, my wife and I would often take visitors out to lunch after the service. I’d do my best song and dance to sell the Revolution Church experience to them. I’d ask what they were looking for in a church, and more times than not I’d encourage them that we’d get right on that! We’d be sure to sell them the product they are looking for!
My brilliant wife would get so frustrated with me! She wanted me to stop the nonsense and simply communicate our vision. Boy, was she right! I was acting in the spirit of the money changers!
I slowly changed my sales pitch. Instead of letting people know how much they would receive if they chose our church for their home, I was reveal the challenge and the cost. I’d let them know that we all pray together 10+ hours a week. We give financially in an extravagant way. We are fervent and burning and calling people into a radical lifestyle—to the cross.
I’d actually try to discourage them from participating if they weren’t on board with the vision! And, surprise! I got more response from that call than I did trying to sell the perfect experience!
2. The Triumphal Entry Church
Now this is church!
I’ve witnessed first hand how people will flood into an environment that’s full of celebration and exuberance. I enjoy those environments too!
I’ve also witnessed first hand how those same people—those who are dancing at the altar, going after a happy experience, will get sad when the call to the cross is preached. It’s heart wrenching.
The focus of the people at the Triumphal Entry is similar to the focuses in the other churches we are discussing. They wanted their lives to be better. Blessing and personal gain were their motives.
The word “Hosanna” literally means, “save us now.” The people wanted a king who would give them life in a kingdom that would be personally fulfilling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire—unless that’s the extent of the desire.
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:8-11
Notice how there was a measure of sacrifice by the people. They gave their cloaks. They got to work and cut down palm branches. They were exuberant in their worship. I can imagine a spirit-filled environment where people are at the altar dancing and laughing and worshiping. I’ve had that happen in churches I’ve led many times, and it’s great! Many churches are growing with this very positive, happy focus—but, the growth is, in my opinion, often driven by people who will not stay the course if the cross is preached with boldness.
See, Jesus was willing to save them now. However, his methods were nowhere near satisfactory for a crowd of people who were looking for life, not death. Jesus chose the cross as the means to answer their prayers. This crowd of energetic worshipers switched quickly to energetic crucifiers.
I’m all for wild, fervent worship. I am a proponent of continual joy. We should dance and smile a lot. However, we can’t dismiss the burden of the cross and the call to die.
Don’t presume a church is alive just because there’s an electric atmosphere. Human energy and desire can create quite an environment. Wait and see who remains when the call to surrender is high, and the alarms of intercession are sounded.
3. The Rich Young Ruler Church
There is some relation between the Rich Young Ruler church and the Money Changers Church. In both scenarios, personal gain was the focus.
The Rich Young Ruler, however, possessed a sincere desire to follow Jesus. Notice how Jesus reveals this story is all about salvation:
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” Matthew 19:16-25
I am convinced there are millions of people following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Pastors have affirmed people’s commitment to Christ and, in turn, their eternal security, all while, in many of those cases Jesus knew the deeper truth—they were not willing to surrender all. I believe the sinner’s prayer has probably led more people to Hell than to Heaven. Handled wrongly it gives people false-confidence in their position in Christ.
How many go to church each week, raise their hands in worship, pay their tithes and “follow Jesus” in a very public way, the same way the Rich Young Ruler wanted to—but are actually not saved?
Even Billy Graham admits less than 2% of people who make decisions at his crusades over the years remain true followers of Jesus. Wow!
If you are struggling with this and the truth of your own salvation, that’s good! That’s healthy! I don’t know where it started being negative for us to wrestle with that. Today leaders don’t want to upset people with messages like this out of fear of accusation and ridicule. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling! The disciples in the above passage wrestled with it, and so should we. Let’s see what Jesus says next:
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:26-29
The most controversial thing I’ve ever said just may be this:
I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven.
Is there any part of the Rich Young Ruler in me? Is it possible that I could fall away? It would be arrogant for me to presume that I’m exempt from the great falling away. I wrestle with Jesus and with my own heart—and I love that process.
Again, it’s healthy and necessary to work that out day by day. And, we need pastors and leaders who won’t skirt that tough topic out of fear of losing people who would rather be coddled. It’s possible that the best giver and most vibrant member of your church is on a track that leads to Hell. We can’t stay silent on this issue.
When you understand how deeply God loves you, it’s wonderful to wrestle with the difficult topics. It’s invigorating!
It’s critical! So many will be shocked to enter Hell. We see this proven in scripture:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
The Coming Church
Spiritual encounters, whether they are visions, dreams or visitations, can go a long way in preparing individuals, groups, and even nations for the otherworldly, dramatic and critical shifts that God is setting into motion. Of course, we know in Scripture that spiritual things must be discerned spiritually, and it’s important to understand clearly what’s being communicated. We also know that all dreams, for example, are not necessarily spiritual dreams. That must be discerned. I challenge you to stay up until 3AM and then consume a bucket of hot wings, a can of Mountain Dew and a half a gallon of ice cream and see what kind of crazy images dance around in your head when you finally fall asleep. Experiences like that won’t shake nations. However, the encounter I had absolutely must.
I had a vision of the soon coming Church. For me, a spiritual revelation, a message delivered directly by the Creator of the world, is usually very easy to discern. It’s rare that I have to go to someone seeking out an interpretation. The scene and the message are almost always extremely vivid and revealing. I immediately understand what the players, atmosphere and story line are attempting to communicate to me.
This particular encounter was no different—in fact, it was so striking, fearful, engulfing and overpowering that the imagery and message will keep me trembling in my spirit forever.
In order to appreciate the magnitude of the message that was communicated to me in the vision, it will be helpful to understand the context. Try to imagine, at least to an incredibly small degree, the picture of the true Church that God himself sees. It shouldn’t be a stretch to realize the picture of the compromised Church that we see on the Earth today clearly cannot match up. Meaning, when God drew up the designs for the glorious Church, leading up to its launch in the book of Acts, the blueprint that was before him looks little like the Church we see today. God’s Church looks little like the Church we have come to know.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. Acts 2:1-3
Do me a favor and read that passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time. I want those three verses to dive into your spirit and shake you up. When God started diagramming the Church, this is what he envisioned—this is where he started. When you compare this passage of Scripture with descriptions of the modern-day Church as we know it, it seems like we are comparing apples and oranges, or even the living and the dead.
I’d like to ask you to read the passage one more time. As I’m writing this, I feel the Spirit of the Lord starting to burn in my inner man. Let me pray for you right now just before you read it again:
Mighty God, I pray the burnings of your Spirit would be transmitted into your friend’s heart. Give them a glimpse into the supernatural yet strikingly real realm of the Church. Give them the capacity to release old paradigms, structures, traditions, mind sets and cultures as they come alive to the reality of the Church as you see it. Amen.
Okay, go ahead and read the passage in Acts chapter 2 one more time.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. Acts 2:1-3
Is it becoming a little bit easier to understand just what the Church should look like? You see, as God designed and then launched the Church, it was literally blowing and burning and every one of those in that upper room experienced it. As we begin to embrace the truth that passages like this are not science fiction, and that they communicate actual phenomena that are expected to be normal for us as believers, it will become easier to leave behind what we know and press toward the soon coming Church. We will suddenly find ourselves so deeply dissatisfied that any thought of maintenance becomes quite ridiculous.
America doesn’t need another bed-and-breakfast church that comforts our flesh (our natural desires). Our nation needs a Church with a volatile atmosphere that explodes, burns human flesh and shocks our culture.
Now, keep in mind that this fiery Acts 2 reality was communicated to us by the Spirit through the Word. This passage is the Word of God, not simply a descriptive, historical report. So, God’s plan is for the Church to be a supernatural raging furnace of Holy Spirit activity.
Mark 7:13 reveals how powerful tradition of man is. It actually makes the Word of God ineffective! The traditions of man overpower the greatest power in existence—Jesus Christ himself. Do you feel the weight of that? Is it possible that we need to embrace the fear of the Lord again? There is a holy tremble that will come as the fierceness of God is revealed to us at the same time the burning love of God does. The thought of allowing man-made concepts, structures or agendas to push aside and nullify God’s plans seems nonsensical. Yet it happens with stunning regularity every day all over the world.
…making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down… Mark 7:13
Of course it’s true that the definition of the Church cannot be limited to a perspective of one segment of the greater structure. It is certainly true, as is revealed later on in Acts chapter 2, that the healthy Church will include Kingdom-focused fellowship, breaking of bread, bold proclamation of the Gospel, discipleship, evangelism, prayer and other critical activities. However, what we see in the Church today is a lot of activity, even good activity, but usually without the tangible burning and blowing of God’s Spirit.
If you take a look at the cover of this book, you will see a futilely poor attempt at visually communicating what I experienced in my vision. In the vision, I found myself in a dramatic, apocalyptic scene. Everything seemed to be colorless, or at best a variety of dark blues, grays and greens. The ominous clouds matched up with the dark and wild landscape all around me.
Directly in front of me was the focal point of the vision, a tremendously massive crater. I can’t begin to describe in human language the overwhelmingly weighty, urgent, and fearsome atmosphere that gripped me and demanded my complete attention. I was trembling as I looked at the edge of the crater in the distance. As I slowly walked toward the gigantic hole in the ground, I knew I could not approach it casually. The fear of the Lord surrounded me. I couldn’t imagine what type of alien invasion could have created an impression this deep in such solid ground. The force had to have been greater than anything my human mind could comprehend.
As I was analyzing the drama that I was experiencing, God revealed to me that the crater I was drawing near to was not simply a hole in the ground. It was, in fact, the coming Church. The Church? My mind certainly couldn’t even begin to analyze what that meant, but my spirit was raging. My mind presumed I should be looking at a small white church building with a steeple, but that was not at all what my spiritual eyes were seeing.
My spirit was provoked and alive, but I knew that those who were more logical than spiritual in their life experience would most probably resist what is just over the horizon.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
Note that this doesn’t mean the unsaved; it means those who are naturally minded. That’s a lot of Christians. Here’s what Paul says next:
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 1 Corinthians 3:1-2
I continued to tremble as the increasingly intense, colorless atmosphere engulfed me, and as I ever so carefully, fearfully, yet with intense curiosity approached the edge of the coming Church, the crater.
Again, I realized I couldn’t casually participate. This was a very clear message that I was receiving. The days of casually connecting in secular fellowship in the Church were over. The shaking and trembling rocked my whole being as I approached this invasion of Heaven on Earth.
Once at the edge, I was stunned and my senses were overwhelmed as I looked at what seemed to be alive. While everything else around me was grayscale, I saw vivid, bright and glowing, neon hues of orange, yellow and red and a prism of colors in between. The bright, colorful, burning lava was living and active. It was moving, coursing throughout the crater. My trembling intensified.
I received an email from someone in theLab University, our ministry training center, here in the Detroit area. The message instantly received my attention when I saw the content contained the word holocaust. Of course, that’s a provocative and sensitive word and it takes some care to handle it when applying it to current situations.
The email was sent to several of us at theLab in reference to a conference I was about to minister at. I’ll share the complete, unedited email so you have a full glimpse of what was being communicated. Keep the vision of the crater in mind as you read.
Hey Fellow Fireball Launchers! I’ve been hit w/ this urgency thing to pray for John, his upcoming trip to Connecticut to speak at the conference w/ Brian Simmons & James Levesque, & well, the conference as a whole. I just feel like we need to rally around him & call down fire on this conference! I’m feelin that God is gonna break through in a crazy way during this, & John is carrying this crazy powerful message. As the Lord impressed it on my heart to pray, I heard 1 word… holocaust. At first, the only thing that came to mind was “the” holocaust of World War II. After my initial thoughts on the word subsided, I started to think about the word. As I was talking to the Lord, I kept asking “What do you mean?”. He prompted me to look up the definition.
Here it is: hol•o•caust noun a great or complete devastation or destruction, especially by fire. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering (Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved October 23, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/HOLOCAUST) Hah! How crazy is that? I’m not even sure what else to say right now, but whoah! It feels like the meaning He’s relaying is not negative. It feels powerful! Still grasping the full context of what’s going on here, but I do know that God is bringin down the house with this one!!
This word was given right after I shared the vision of the crater with the students and staff at theLab. What is coming to the Church is not an enhancement or an adjustment. The destruction (or we could use the word deconstruction) will be so comprehensive and total that it will not only remove current structures, but also the faulty foundations (anything other than the foundation of Christ) they were built on. The coming Church will look nothing like the Church we now know.
This transformation will take us well beyond our human ability to understand. I believe God intentionally overwhelmed me with such a vivid vision while also leaving almost every question unanswered. This plan for reformation won’t easily translate into a formulaic church growth process. The only way we can apply it to our own situation is by falling on our faces, being consumed by another world and submitting ourselves to the risky, vulnerable and shocking process of transformation.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7
Check out this simple yet profoundly important quote by Andrew Murray:
Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. (Christian Reader, v. 32, n. 4.)
We are all too often guilty of praying for what we can see or imagine. The dynamic life of prayer and faith doesn’t even really begin until we venture outside of the realm of human senses. It’s too easy to get consumed with what seems to be obvious and natural in our pursuits while forgetting that the majority of our answers and adventures sit just beyond the reach of our human understanding.
If this is true (which it is), then we must agree that God’s picture of the Church is also painted with colors that exist outside of our earthly realm. This invasion of Heaven on Earth will result in an explosion of brilliance that we could never have imagined.
This is precisely what happened in the Upper Room. God was birthing the Church as only he could with revelation and power that only he had. There was no way for anybody in that room to possibly imagine what was coming no matter how creative they may have been.
In fact, their human futility was obvious just prior to the outpouring in the Upper Room. They were required to fulfill the mandate to find a replacement for the fallen Judas. Their process actually looks a lot like the decision-making processes of Christians today. They prayed and then cast lots.
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:26
They were so limited in revelation because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to them—that they relied on human methods of decision making. They could do no better than pray and cast lots. Today’s church is much like that—there’s little revelation and little power so we do what is humanly understandable. The coming Church is both ancient and emerging. It’s ancient because it’s the Church founded through an empty tomb and a burning Upper Room. It’s emerging because it’s been largely forsaken. Humanism has replaced supernatural power. Humanistic efforts result in a limited, disappointing life.
However, when the Holy Spirit is in the mix, what is humanly impossible becomes the launching pad of Kingdom life. The transition that is coming will result in a shift of manifestation. Instead of hoping for God to manifest in our natural realm alone we will begin manifesting in God’s supernatural realm!
As wonderful as it is, when we focus solely on God touching life as we know it in our earthly realm, we limit God. But when we venture beyond this world into the great expanse of the heavenly world, the possibilities of encounter, adventure, abundant life and Kingdom living are limitless.
I trust the idea of the Church being defined by a Sunday service with some worship songs and some teaching is looking quite ludicrous right about now.
The day after I received the vision of the coming Church I was still processing through it. As I shared in the previous chapter, I decided to share the vision along with my clear, yet still limited interpretation with the class of interns at theLab.
It’s not uncommon for me and others to receive prophetic revelation such as dreams, visions and words, especially during the feverishly hot spiritual environments when theLab is in session, and it can be at least somewhat common to share those impressions with the class. It’s a prime environment to learn how to be intimately connected with the lover of our souls, and to hear the beating of his heart. It’s quite powerful to communicate just what that beat feels and sounds like!
This particular class was different in every way. I was suddenly carrying a burning coal from the embers of God’s heart, and I was undone from the inside out. A tremble was resonating throughout my being, and I knew I at least had to communicate what was happening. The problem was that I honestly didn’t have full understanding of what was going on. My spirit was burning with revelation, but how would I put it in human language? What would I say? Would it even make sense to these growing and hungry students? Little did I realize, it was about to make perfect sense to all of us very quickly.
I addressed the students and let them know that something terrifying, yet desirous beyond description was revealed to me the previous evening. I had their attention. I proceeded to share the events just as I did with you in the previous chapter. I was in a state of burning and sobriety. It was quite clear that all attention was to be on what I was saying, and that it certainly wasn’t time for interruptions.
I wasn’t long into the encounter when one of the students, Kathy, suddenly got quite animated. She was popping her hand up and down, clearly wanting to be heard. I wasn’t ready for any type of break because I was in the middle of sharing the revelation, so I asked her to wait until I finished. Throughout the remainder of the story, she was respectful as she waited her turn, but it was clear that something was awakened within. She was about to come out of her skin.
I ended by saying something like, “I’m not sure what any of this means specifically, but I do know this—the Church as we know it is about to end. There is a fearful burning that is about to replace today’s church culture with the supernatural force of God himself.”
Now it was Kathy’s turn. Our unsettled student was about to bring revelation with great clarity.
Kathy said something along the lines of, “I have been about to explode the entire time you were talking! I have to share with you something that I saw on National Geographic just before I left for class tonight!”
What she shared next launched this revelation into an entirely different realm. She shared what she saw and later sent me the link to watch the documentary myself online. It was a brilliantly produced special on the ramifications of a massive asteroid crashing into the Earth.
The parallels to the encounter I had were remarkable. The question that was being considered in this documentary was this:
What would happen to the Earth if a massive asteroid collided with it?
After listening to Kathy explain what she saw, I was provoked! I went home and watched the National Geographic special myself. I was stunned as I found myself in the middle of one of the most significant revelations of my life. As I watched, it was easy to see what God was saying. There is a coming collision and it will change everything. Here’s the specific takeaway as I compared my vision with the very timely National Geographic special:
The first point of interest was quite interesting indeed. When the asteroid collided with the Earth, it was so massive in size that the top of it was 30,000 feet in the air—where commercial jets fly! This documentary revealed the shocking ramifications of an alien rock that size colliding with the Earth. Shock and awe would not be sufficient to describe it.
Spiritual Application: God is coming in such force that it will impact not only the Earth, but the Second Heaven (the atmosphere where the enemy moves freely) as well. The strong demonic influence on the Earth from the Second Heaven will take a mighty blow as Heaven invades Earth–on a path that takes it right through his domain. This doesn’t mean the enemy will be disarmed. In fact, the demonic activity will intensify with great power, but the Church will be awakened into its authority and will see many demonic attacks thwarted. Confidence to advance the Kingdom of God will be at an all time high as a burning Church is broken and activated into its true authority. When God’s forceful entry is experienced, everything that can be shaken will be shaken.
A Pillar of Fire
The documentary went on to dramatically explain that when the asteroid hit the Earth, a pillar of fire instantly exploded and reached from the surface of the Earth up into the heavens.
Spiritual Application: The connection between Heaven and Earth, between God and his Church, will be a conduit of fire. The burning of the Holy Spirit will be raging as the Church and God are in constant encounter at a level never before known to man.
Next, balls of fire shot out from the pillar and scorched regions far away from the point of impact.
Spiritual Application: An impacted and supernaturally reformed Church will be so volatile, so explosive, that it will ignite fires in regions far away. A single impact in a single region will be so powerful that other cities will not only feel the Earth shake, but will be hit with the otherworldly fire as well.
As I watched the dramatic presentation continue, the global impact became clear. A cloud of smoke then rose and actually surrounded the entire planet. The entire Earth was covered by the residual impact of the asteroid.
Spiritual Application: The glory of God will cover the Earth! The residue of his activity will be felt all around the planet, capturing the attention of every nation. Nobody will be able to escape the impact, though many will resist it.
Heaven Impacting Earth
Celestial elements, parts of the asteroid that don’t exist on this planet, were implanted into the ground.
Spiritual Application: This is powerful! Heaven was brought to Earth! The Church will be infused with the very DNA of God. God himself will be coursing throughout.
The time is NOW for the church to shift into its true identity as a house of prayer. What is coming cannot be supported by today’s church structure. Will you shift and trust God’s wisdom? I suggest you do. I suggest we must.
Operation Houston: It’s time to launch a movement of Spirit driven prayer in the face of homosexual bullying
Houston has a problem.
For those of you who read my recent article titled 9 Prophetic Keys for Binding the Homosexual Spirit, you may know where this article is going. It’s time for a humble people to boldly advance with tears in their eyes and fire in their mouths. The homosexual agenda is advancing in unprecedented arrogance and the church must respond boldly in the authority it has been given.
With this in mind, I want to warn against any human zeal or pride that would result in combating against the aggressive demands of the city of Houston. The arrogance of those who are placing improper and unrighteous demands on pastors in Houston must not be met with arrogance and unrighteous demands by the church. True humility will result in true boldness and the power of God will be made evident. Keep in mind, this isn’t a political human rights or first amendment issue—this is a spiritual issue. If America were not a free nation, how then would we respond? It wouldn’t be in the courts of our land. It would be in the courtroom of Heaven.
This doesn’t mean human judges won’t be involved—they very well may be. It does mean, however, that they can’t win alone. The church must pray.
We have great authority as Christians thanks to what Jesus did for us.
…which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church… Ephesians 1:20-22
This authority grants us the right and the responsibility to govern on the Earth. God’s government trumps the government of the city of Houston and as we operate in our authority as a unified church entire cities will shift. We have the keys of the Kingdom and we have the authority to bind and to loose—and God will have our back.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
The church has historically had a tragically weak response to the homosexual agenda. We haven’t stood in our authority.
I believe this is mostly due to the fear of being accused of hatred. After all, our calling card is love and it would seem to make sense to protect that branding. The thought is that we should simply respond to assaults with a smile on our face and a bear hug. Unfortunately, that won’t work against principalities and powers. In fact, such a response is not the perfect expression of love. Not even close. It looks more like timidity.
It’s rare today to hear people clearly sounding alarms and warning those who are in grave danger. It seems that it’s more loving to avoid discussing someone’s possible eternal future than to warn them that they are at risk of eternal torment. The gut wrenching truth that causes me to shudder and break in my heart is that the Mayor of Houston is fighting against God and, based on Scriptural truth, is currently destined for Hell. Again, it’s love that communicates this horrifying reality, and it’s also love to go to battle on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and her supporters in Houston.
God’s passion for them is intense and the enemy’s attack against them is continual. The church finds itself in between, warring for their souls.
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?
First, we must agree that this is a fight. We have to move beyond our simple evangelism strategies and relationship building at the coffee shop. The church of America is at war and our weapons are not man made.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
When considering the homosexual advance, it’s important that we understand what our battle is. Our fight will look very different depending on the situation. Who are we engaging?
We don’t fight people, but we do fight an invisible enemy. That enemy will manifest differently depending on just who it’s attacking. Consider these two strategic focuses:
- The Homosexual Victim
- The Homosexual Agenda
There are millions of people who have been violated by Satan’s hordes and the result is extreme confusion regarding their sexual identity. The homosexual victim has been abused and confused and our approach as loving Christians must be tender. Of course, we will fight the enemy on their behalf but the point I want to make here is that a giant smile and a massive bear hug are absolutely appropriate in this particular scenerio. A personal, relational approach is necessary and we should take the time to serve those who feel hopeless and confused.
This article, however, is directed more to the homosexual agenda. Our response to this massive onslaught in our nation will look much different than it does to the homosexual victim. At this level, the war is on.
For the victim we are dealing with emotions, woundings and various demonic attacks. Regarding the agenda it’s a completely different story. We are dealing with extremely powerful, influential wicked powers that can’t be won with a hug.
The homosexual agenda is driven by a violent, organized and deadly demonic strategy that has little to do with same sex attraction—it’s all about taking dominion in America and it’s manifesting clearly in Houston.
This evil assault must be met with one key spiritual strategy—praying in tongues. Fervent, unified, passionate and continual prayer in the Spirit. This is a call to the church to always be in the Spirit and to pray without ceasing.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Again, read my prior article for a more comprehensive explanation of this revelation. The present danger our nation is experiencing cannot be allowed to advance.
It’s time to bring confusion to the camp. The violent, intolerant homosexual agenda will be stalled via a massive movement of people who are praying in the Spirit. The groans of intercession need to be heard in our nation again!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20
Praying in the Spirit is one of our weapons of warfare! It results in precise intercession being lifted up and a sword of the Spirit exploding out of our mouths! Just imagine the demons that are scattering as we pray!
I see stadiums filled with thousands of people who spend all day and night groaning and roaring in the Spirit along with myriads of angels waging war in the heavenlies over Houston!
Just as those in the homosexual movement have a common language, and just as those at the Tower of Babel had one language, the church’s response must be the common language that God gave us in Acts 2.
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. —Gen. 11:1
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:3-4
Just as confusion came to those at Babel, another unified language resulted in confusion in Jerusalem:
And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled… Acts 2:6-7
The difference? At Babel the confusion stopped the unified work of Satan. In Acts the prayer-fueled unity initiated outpouring caused people to marvel!
It’s time for Satan’s agenda in Houston to be confused and for the people of Houston to marvel!
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD?
We all know the verse:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
This is one of the most misused verses in all of Scripture.
When somebody has a bad day—their girlfriend breaks up with them or they can’t pay their bills or they break their leg—it’s common to quote this famous verse. The problem? It’s terrible counsel and it doesn’t work. That single verse cannot stand alone. Context is necessary.
You may have noticed that the verse started with the word AND. That should tip us off to something that comes prior. There’s a condition that must be met for verse 28 to activate. Those conditions are found in verses 26 and 27:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
It’s when we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede through us with groans that things start to come together.
America needs a groaning movement of deep intercession! The Holy Spirit knows what the mind of the Spirit is, and he prays through people who physically groan and travail. This prayer is perfect prayer as it’s according to the will of God. We don’t need human strategy when we pray in the Spirit!
When the groans are burning in and through us we find ourselves loving God more deeply and trusting him more fully. We agree with his calling on our lives. Then all things work together for good!
As the church of Houston and of our nation gathers together in unity to allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us, we will begin to see all things working together for good! The love of God will explode! The homosexual agenda will lose its power and the plan of our glorious Savior will advance in power! Let’s fill churches, streets, homes and stadiums with groaning intercessors! Can you imagine what tens of thousands of people groaning deeply in the Spirit would sound like? The stadium roof would explode!
Unity always surrounds a cause, or a point of focus. The homosexual agenda is possibly the most unified movement in the world today. They are gathered around a singular focus.
Consider the three Hebrews who unified against King Nebuchadnezzar. The king called everybody to rally around an image. His strategy for national strength was brilliant—unity.
So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:7
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose a different point of unity—the fire.
Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Daniel 3:15
God was the only one who could deliver them, and God was the only one who could change the nation. So, in the face of certain death, they stood together in unity.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
This is where the church is right now. What will we rally around? If we attempt to blend in and let the situation play out, we, by default, worship the image—the image that the homosexual agenda is gathering everyone in the city around.
When we make our stand, we will absolutely appear to be divisive, hateful and arrogant, and that will result in rage in the camp.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:19-20
It’s at this point, well into the battle, where Jesus will be made known to all:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:24-25
Their radical unity in the fire resulted in a manifestation of Jesus that was undeniable. The nation turned at that moment. Our nation, the city of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker can all be transformed over night.
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:28-30
Operation Houston will result in a unified church in the midst of the fire, wielding their weapons, praying in the Spirit and impacting not only Houston but the nation and the entire world. The love of God will be made manifest and millions of people will have an unprecedented opportunity to experience it. Church, this is our hour.
Does anybody in Houston have a stadium we can borrow for a day?
It’s time to pray.
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