Extreme reform must come to the out of control prophetic movement.

I believe we must see a radical increase in authentic prophetic ministry. While there are issues and extremes in today’s prophetic movement, the truth is that most churches are woefully shallow or outright resistant when it comes to developing a prophetic culture.

An electric, supernatural and stunning spirit of prophecy should be energizing our church services. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully and it’s critical that we tap into what he is doing and saying.

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21, ESV)

A CALL TO REFORMATION

The famine of the Rhema voice of God in so many Christians and churches has been a burden of mine for decades. Unfortunately, it seems some have tried to fill that void with either unhealthy, unbalanced or outright unbiblical prophetic practices. Reform is needed.

NO MORE PROPHETIC GUARANTEES

Have you ever heard someone in church belting out a revelation that starts something like, “The Lord is saying to you…” or for some of our more traditional Pentecostals, “Thus sayeth the Lord…”

Yeah, this has to stop.

People are sharing prophetic words as if they are guarantees. They fail to consider the myriad of variables that come into play regarding a prophetic word. People are mortal. They can make mistakes.

Further, prophetic words are always conditional. People have a role to play. A failed response can result in a word that doesn’t come to pass.

Also, hearts can change. Someone can fail to measure up to the demands of the word. They can reject the word. They can fall into sin. On and on.

Prophetic guarantees can do great damage to people’s faith. I’ve known people who have made very costly life decisions because of a prophecy. They have quit their jobs, sold their homes, moved across the country, married the wrong person, and on and on simply because they received a prophetic guarantee. Like I said, this has to stop.

A better way to say it would be, “I sense the Lord is saying,” or “Be sure to pray over this and weigh it carefully. I feel God is saying…”

PROPHETIC WORD SHOULD BE SUBMITTED FOR ANALYSIS

“but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV)

The Bible clearly requires all prophetic words to be tested, weighed and judged.

“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” (1 Corinthians 14:29, ESV)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” (1 John 4:1, ESV)

It requires humility to invite a thorough critique when releasing a prophetic word. Instead of a prophetic guarantee, we should be submitting our divine revelation for consideration. We should invite people to analyze it, to pray over it and to judge it. If people did this with each word they communicated, it would remove much of the stigma surrounding the prophetic movement.

MINIMIZE FORETELLING, EMPHASIZE FORTHTELLING

Has anybody else grown tired of the circus-like, crystal ball-style fortune telling in so much of the prophetic today?

Understand, I absolutely do believe in foretelling, in revealing future events as the Holy Spirit gives the revelation. The Bible is filled with such prophetic information and authentic foretelling absolutely happens today.

That being said, there has become an unhealthy obsession with gazing into the future. It’s time for a fresh, anointed prophetic climate to emerge that is driven by forthtelling, by a Rhema revelation of timeless biblical truths. We need prophetic preachers who breathe fire as they release oracles from Heaven that erupt right out of the Bible. The Word of God must again be primary.

WE NEED TO QUIT LEANING SO HEAVILY ON PROPHETIC WORDS

As someone who affirms the need for a radical increase of true prophetic ministry, you might be surprised that I rarely get excited or uptight about a prophetic word.

This is true when the word is for me personally and it's true if the word is a public word.

Why? It's simple. Prophetic words take time to unfold. Also, they are often flat out wrong. If they are true, I need to discover what my role is and how I should steward the word. There is process.

It's not like winning the lottery or finding a genie in a lamp.

Does this mean I don't prepare if a prophetic word is given to warn me? No way. I prepare as the Lord leads, but I don't get spun out about the word or overly obsessed with the word.

Does this mean my faith isn't encouraged if a positive prophetic word is given to me? Nope. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. The Rhema, prophetic word of God.

However, you'd be shocked at how many positive, encouraging words I've received that have never come to pass. Good people were attempting to bless me but wrongly labeled their encouragement as prophecy.

Prophecy can be wrong no matter how convinced we are that God said something. We can interpret incorrectly. We may miss the analysis. We may not rightly steward the word. We might wrongly discern the timing.

The prophetic is less like a fortune cookie then many realize.

WE NEED BOTH GRACE AND ACCOUNTABILITY

The Old Testament “stone them if they are wrong” mindset needs to finally come to an end. In the New Covenant prophecy is markedly different. While a prophetic word can certainly be extremely weighty, it’s never complete. In fact, prophetic data comes not in the form of a bellowing, clearly heard and perfectly understood voice erupting out of a burning bush, but rather as abstract, nebulous impressions and sensations.

Consider dreams. They require interpretation. So does every other type of prophetic impression. Today, it’s not difficult to be deeply intimate with Jesus, living a life of prayer, humbly surrendered, wholeheartedly given to God’s call on our lives and also mistaken about a prophetic word. We need to give people grace when they miss it.

Yes, as I have already said, grace will be more easily extended when the prophets stop slapping a “thus sayeth the Lord” on every word they deliver.

And, yes, we also need a more solid system of accountability. What happened to those who prophesied that COVID would be gone nine or ten months ago? What about other failed words that go unjudged and are long forgotten? There’s a healthy way to handle this. Ignoring it isn’t the answer.

QUIT SHAMING THOSE WHO WEIGH AND JUDGE PROPHETIC WORDS

If you hang on to prophetic words without weighing them, and shame those who are in fact weighing, you have no idea how biblical prophecy works.

There is no medal of honor given to those who are unmovable regarding prophetic words. Scripture, in fact, requires that we are flexible as the outcome of prophecies can change depending on many different variables.

There has been a spirit of mean unleashed this past year by those who have white-knuckled grips on prophetic words about the election and other key issues. Dare to weigh the words, as the Bible commands, and question them in the slightest, and you better duck. Some uber-spiritual people will launch assaults questioning your faith, your spirituality and even your salvation. It’s disgusting.

REJECT WORDS NOT BIRTHED FROM THE FURNACE OF PRAYER

If the person delivering the word isn’t burning hot in the furnace of intercession day after day, their word cannot be trusted. Throw it out. If it’s truly a word of God, it will jump right back into play and it will be undeniable. However, I’ve found it to be quite rare that a prophecy can be truly trusted if it’s not birthed from the place of intercession.

There are other measures we can take to see the prophetic become healthy and effective, but if we can start with the above, the prophetic culture this nation so desperately needs will become vibrant, anointed and accurate again.

No matter what ultimately happens with the election, we need reformation in today's prophetic streams.

I've hesitated writing this article for several weeks. The reason? I'm placing myself right in the crossfire of the prophetic zealots (of which, ironically, I am one) and those who are fed up with the mystical, self-serving foolishness that's rampant today. I'm in that group too.

Truly, it's a no-win situation. However, ministry isn't about winning. Ministry is about communicating truth so the Kingdom of God can most powerfully advance. So, onward.

It's important for you to understand that I have been embracing the prophetic for years. My entire life has been marked by strange and glorious supernatural occurrences. God's leading has been nothing short of remarkable and miraculous. I'm humbled and in awe.

I believe that God speaks, moves and interacts with every Christian who has an ear to hear. The wonders that so many experience on a consistent basis are not only dramatic, but they are required if we are to move in the direction the Spirit of God is leading us.

Without hesitation I admit to endorsing the often bizarre, sometimes confounding and always stunning biblically-based prophetic ministry. Honestly, it would be impossible for me not to. I've written about my personal, humanly impossible, logically indescribable prophetic happenings in several of my books. I can't doubt.

FALSE PROPHETS!

With that, I'm also disturbed by the butchering of prophetic ministry today.

Before you attempt to offer me a high-five in celebration of finding another who is bent on exposing today's false prophets, you need to hear me.

Let's deal with the elephant in this article. Several high profile prophetic leaders have boldly predicted another four years for President Trump. You need to understand that I personally know some of these people, and I've been following the ministry of several others. To call them false prophets based on the current state of our nation's affairs alone would be ridiculous.

These men and women of God are so pure, so passionate about Jesus and radically locked-in to God's heart. They are also imperfect.

Let's settle something right now. Missing a prophecy does not deem one a false prophet. As I stated above, that is ridiculous. There's a difference between false prophecy and poor prophecy. False prophecy is demonic while poor prophecy flows out of imperfect children of God at times (just as poor teaching, poor pastoring and poor evangelizing does).

Of course, at the writing of this article, the election isn't settled. President Trump could very well be re-elected, even at this late stage in early December, 2020. This would, I suppose, vindicate the prophets. But do they need vindication?

NEW TESTAMENT PROPHECY

Old Testament prophecy and New Testament prophecy are markedly different.

In the Old Covenant, a small handful of prophets received occasional, clear, precise messages from God.

In the New Covenant, every Believer in Christ, including those who hold the office of Prophet, can hear God's voice. However, while Old Testaments prophets received messages, today we perceive God's messages. Today, prophecy is intuitive, often abstract and, in most cases, it must be learned.

Quite often, prophetic signs, dreams, visions, impressions and other spiritual data must be interpreted. It also must be weighed, analyzed and prayed through. The Holy Spirit brings the understanding to the precise parts of the divine message entrusted to us.

That process can result in accidental errors.

Prophecy is tricky. We need to exhibit both faith and humility. Admitting there is a chance we might be wrong either partially or completely isn't exhibiting a lack of faith. I don't believe we should ever give a “thus sayeth the Lord” when prophesying. We should say, “I sense the Lord saying,” or “I have a strong impression that…” Why? We can miss it.

Prophecies in Scripture are absolute. Prophecies today are not. Further, prophecies not found in the Bible are conditional. We have a role to play in the outcome.

All of this is why I believe declaring a prophecy that is not found in Scripture to be one hundred percent certain to come to pass is inappropriate and irresponsible.

FAKE NEWS PROPHECY

This brings us to the necessary reformation.

Are there foolish, self-satisfying people growing a pseudo-prophetic ministry that's fueled by the enemy? Absolutely there are.

Are there others who are immature in their understanding of the prophetic, and as a result are out of step with true biblical prophecy? Yes.

Has the prophetic become way too dominant in some people's lives, to the exclusion of basic, orthodox, historical Bible truths? Most definitely. (Though I'd suggest there are way more who have excluded a true, biblical, prophetic lifestyle in favor of dry, dead religion.)

Simply, is much of today's prophetic ministry that's flourishing all over social media fake news? It is.

I'll introduce some sub-points that should at least get us thinking:

PURPOSE

Predictive prophecy (foretelling) often leaves me asking a question: why was it necessary to share that message? What is the purpose?

Understand, it's just a question. There may be a legitimate answer. Of course, Scripture is filled with predictive prophecies. Yet, there must be a reason God would reveal this information to us.

Why did we need to know that President Trump would supposedly win the election? What is that purpose? On one hand, it could be to bolster a prophets resume of successful predictions. Is there another hand? Maybe. But we really need to know what's in that hand. What is our role in response to the prophetic word?

STRATEGY

I personally believe all prophecy not found in Scripture is conditional. I believe it was designed this way by God as a catalyst to rally the troops.

For example, if the prophets are revealing that Trump was God's choice, what must the church do to advance that agenda? Prophecy that is devoid of a strategic call to action is at least suspicious.

Prophetic messages should provoke a response, whether it's a warning or revelation of God's heart or an uncovering of the enemy's plans, we as hearers of the word need to know how to proceed.

FORTHTELLING VS FORETELLING

Personally, I am significantly more impressed with prophetic preaching, forthtelling, than I am with foretelling, revealing future events.

Understand, I affirm and value both, when handled well. But, give me a Leonard Ravenhill any day over one of today's pop prophets. Forthtelling always has a fiery, urgent and unapologetic call to action. Unfortunately, too many of today's foretellers are more excited about their ability to craft the perfect fortune cookie message than they are revealing the depths of God.

THUS SAYETH THE LORD

I dealt with this above, but I wanted to put it in the list of thought provokers. When I hear someone declare that “God said” and that what they heard is perfect, complete and guaranteed to come to pass, I change the channel.

We prophecy in part. We see in part. We understand in part. And, guess what? We are fallible humans. We can miss it.

Again, New Testament prophecy is intuitive. I'm not saying it can't have a measure of clarity. It absolutely can. I'm not saying it can't be overwhelming, weighty and convincing. It can. In fact, we need to live in the realm of the weighty much more than we do today. The prayer rooms should be soaked with sweat and tears from the brows of the prophets.

However, we aren't privy to an unmistakable voice booming out of a burning bush. The Holy Spirit is the one brooding and impressing upon God's people mysterious and often illogical messages that require discernment, prayer and interpretation to grasp.

PROPHECY IS CONDITIONAL

I posted the following to Facebook recently:

What percent chance do you give Trump being reelected at this stage of the game? (If you say 100% or 0%, you are delusional. I'm sure you are nice, but still delusional.)

Needless to say, a bunch of delusional friends responded! (I say that with a friendly smile on my face.)

There are so many factors at play in the prophetic that we can rarely if ever proclaim that a prophetic word is certain to come to pass. Remember, prophecy not found in Scripture is conditional. It's an invitation, not a guarantee.

Several promoted the idea that thinking anything less would be a violation of faith. This is not true. We have a part to play.

This is what happens when “thus sayeth the Lord” style prophecies are accepted as the norm. They can seduce people into a false sense of comfort as they sit back and wait for it to come to pass.

THE ENEMY

Anybody who has adopted a prophetic lifestyle knows that prophetic words must be warred over. Simply receiving and believing is far from enough.

Satan is exceptionally skilled at disrupting the plans of God in our lives. When we simply receive and believe, we are playing right into the enemy's hands. We must go to battle! Presuming a prophecy will come to pass without a sword in our hands is akin to wishing upon a star.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are many other factors at play including timing, sin in the lives of the prophets, fear, doubt, presumption, etc.

I feel some great first steps in reforming the prophetic would include:

  • Prophesying from a place of fervent, Spirit-driven intercession.
  • Considering the purpose of the word.
  • Majoring on forthtelling, minoring on foretelling.
  • Communicating prophetic strategies, not just a prophetic word.
  • Inviting the word to be weighed.
  • Admitting when you missed it.
  • Giving grace to those who missed it.
  • Avoiding presumptive prophetic guarantees.

Photo credit: “Fake News – Person Reading Fake News Article” by mikemacmarketing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by The Stream.

This is an unprecedented, historic and special season for Christians as we rally around an administration that is so zealously honoring of God.

I was deeply moved as I watched President Trump along with his team including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany engaging with passion in a vibrant, Spirit-filled, prophetic church.

Deeply moved? No, that's woefully understated. The Spirit of God was burning and blowing through me as I watched. There was a tremble within that suddenly activated as I watched our President and those who surround him in the midst of a cyclone of Holy Spirit activity in Las Vegas. Tears filled my eyes.

“This is your third time here, that means you’re a church member. I don’t care what anybody says. I love my president,” Pastor Marc Goulet said.

President Trump, encouraging and exhorting the pastor and staff, declared that he'll be back to the International Church of Las Vegas many times.

NOT VOTING FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP?

I know many are already smirking and arguing that this was nothing more than an attention-grab. A photo-op.

First of all, I don't care, and I'll tell you why in a moment.

Secondly, if this was your reaction, and you consider yourself a true disciple of Jesus, you have no option but to repent.

As Believers we are to make judgment on others when done according to Scripture. What is inappropriate is a judgment of motive. Clearly, we are mandated to judge fruit. We are to carefully and lovingly analyze situations God brings before us.

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3, ESV)

However, we don't have the license to judge motive. Such a judgment results in gossip, division and accusation. We align ourselves with the enemy. He is the accuser. In fact, Revelation 12:10 reveals he accuses Christians day and night before the Lord.

Others may say they have the gift of discernment and it's that gift that allows them to judge President Trump's motive. News flash: there is no such gift revealed in the Bible as the gift of discernment. It's not there. When people declare they have this gift it's usually an excuse to operate in some good old-fashioned charismatic witchcraft. Gossip. Manipulation.

“…to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:10, ESV)

The gift they are probably referring to is the discernment of spirits, or to “distinguish between spirits.” This is the gift that comes in handy when taking someone through deliverance. We know what spirit is manifesting (or hiding) and we are able to confront it with spiritual intelligence. This gift has nothing to do with judging the motives of someone else. This is God's job and his alone.

Now, the reason I said that I don't care whether President Trump's appearance was merely an opportunity to grab attention (which I don't believe it was) or not is simple: this man, in unprecedented fashion for a sitting President, has surrounded himself with authentic, fiery, devoted and uncompromising lovers of Jesus.

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Mike Pence, Kayleigh McEnany and the many reputable and anointed pastors and Christian leaders who have remarkable access to him.

Simply, this is the most Spirit-driven administration America has probably ever seen. More striking is the night and day (dark and light?) comparison between such an unashamed embrace of Jesus and the wickedness so many of the liberal left represent.

THE FOOLISHNESS OF REJECTING DONALD TRUMP

I want to encourage you to watch some of the videos from yesterday's church service. You'll witness powerful decrees, intercession and exhortation in an atmosphere marked by extreme Holy Spirit activity. I've wanted to visit this church for years, and I was thrilled to see our President placing himself and his team in the midst of that whirlwind.

We can all vote for anybody we desire. That's the American way.

That being said, I'm stunned that any person who names the name of Christ would even consider for a moment allowing the nefarious agenda that the left is aggressively promoting to become rule in our nation.

Like him or not, Donald Trump is be far the most pro-Christian, pro-church, pro-faith President America has ever had. Stop and think about that. The left? This year most probably represents the most immoral, anti-God political advance in our nation's history.

Have you witnessed the brilliance of Kayleigh McEnany as she runs her press conferences? As phenomenal as she is on her own merit, I'm sure she would agree with me that her poise, wisdom, boldness and effectiveness in her position is mostly the result of a weighty and unusual anointing of God on her life. She is in her position as a result of Donald Trump authorizing her, commissioning her and entrusting her as the spokesperson of the highest office in the land. If we remove Trump, our nation's next spokesperson will most certainly be anointed by a very different spirit indeed.

Consider Vice President Mike Pence. Again, like him or not you have to respect his fervent devotion to Jesus. I shudder to even ponder the comparison between this godly man and the current Democratic Vice Presidential candidate.

DONALD TRUMP IS A LEADER WHO HAS BEEN MARKED BY GOD

I didn't vote for Donald Trump four years ago. I wrote in Ted Cruz. I absolutely will be voting for him this time around.

I have watched this man transformed before our nation's eyes. He is a story of redemption, and at age 74, it's a story that is still being written. He's much different than he was in 2016. He'll be even better in the years ahead.

Is he perfect? No way.

Do I hope for the sanctification process to ramp up in his life? Sure.

Do I believe God has anointed him for this hour. Absolutely.

I'm disheartened by professing Christians who are wholesale rejecting President Trump simply because they believe him to be rude, arrogant or a jerk.

Listen closely: I'd rather have a flawed yet growing Christian who may be considered a jerk than someone who clearly exhibits rotting (and dangerous) fruit like many of those on the liberal left. There's no comparison.

In fact, many misunderstand the traits that mark many leaders, including those in the church. A mega-church pastor once said that he'd never hire a staff member with a strong spiritual gift of mercy. He explained that those people all too often refuse to make the tough and necessary daily decisions because they are too concerned about people's feelings. That may sound harsh and unloving to you, but the truth is that too many pastors refuse to lead with boldness today. So they compromise the mission to appease a few.

It takes an in-your-face fighter, anointed by God, to lead churches and nations today. Yes, we must be loving in our approach, but we can't be passive. I believe if more pastors followed Donald Trump's “You're fired” approach we'd have healthier churches and we'd be much closer to revival. Again, we can do so with love and tenderness while also being strong and decisive.

When is the last time you heard about a pastor following this mandate in Scripture?

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you… And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1,2 ESV)

Isn't it interesting that Scripture calls those who are dismissive of sin in the camp arrogant? Today we'd presume someone who expelled them from the church to be unloving, harsh, accusatory and arrogant. Yet, that's exactly what God demands.

Brash leadership isn't by default ungodly. Yes, it can be, of course. We simply cannot look at someone who is offensive and deem them to be unrighteous or unfit for leadership. Often times godly leadership demands an offensive, aggressive and unapologetic approach. Donald Trump, while quite imperfect, exemplifies this.

So, just to make my point vividly clear, no I don't care about his aggressive, brash and sometimes irritating demeanor when he is making the tough godly decisions for our nation.

Am I saying Donald Trump is ready to lead a church? No. He's not. Yet, with refining he would make a modern day apostle unlike the world has ever seen. For now, I do believe, as a man in progress, even with all of his rough edges, he is clearly the right choice for the next four years.

Originally published by The Stream.

I'm convinced many Christians have no understanding of the term “Spirit-filled.”

Stay with me. The topic of this article could easily trigger those who are easily offended at the suggestion that some churches are more Spirit-filled than others. I'd like to challenge you to remain engaged and to honestly consider what I'm about to communicate, even if you ultimately disagree.

Someone asked a question in a Facebook group I'm subscribed to about the types of churches in our area. They mentioned some particular churches, including Upperroom in Dallas, Texas, as the type of church they were looking for.

It seemed clear, at least to me, that they were looking for a church that many would label as Spirit-filled. This, however, was lost on most of the people who responded.

Some wonderful Christians started filling up the comments with suggestions. What struck me was that the majority of them were not Charismatic, Spirit-filled churches. Many of the people were emphasizing the upbeat, contemporary style of worship, the relevant teaching and the family atmosphere their suggested church offered. As I read through everybody's input, I couldn't help but to flashback several years ago to my first Sunday in town.

Our family visited a fairly large, well-established and vibrant church that was filled with friendly people. The worship was concert-style, professional and well polished. Several people were closing their eyes and lifting their hands as they sang along. The preacher was a young guy with the rough, raw yet skilled edge you'd imagine in an environment like this. He communicated well and the message was biblical.

I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Again, stay with me. Please hear my heart. I'm convinced this place was filled with legitimate Christian brothers and sisters, people who were devoted to the Lord and who loved their church home. I applaud this. It wasn't for me, though. Why? I later discovered this was not a church that believed in the manifestations and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that spiritual things must be discerned spiritually and, while what I discerned naturally was really appealing, spiritually I was discerning a lack of Holy Spirit activity.

This is the point of this article. Churches that do embrace Holy Spirit gifts and manifestations are radically different than those that do not, even if they may look similar to the human eye.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE

Years ago when the worship movement really began to take off I often wondered how churches and movements that were “more Baptist” in theology and practice would respond. Would they move on from hymns or resist the new sound in the earth? To my surprise many of them adopted the songs, the vibrancy, some of the more mild expressions and the passion. What was missing in many of these scenarios however was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The invisible move of the Spirit of God was absent.

Yesterday's Facebook conversation confirmed yet again the idea that many Christians simply don't understand the difference between “Spirit-filled” and not “Spirit-filled.” They are limited to human emotion and intellectual understanding. They are looking for songs that move them, sermons that inspire them, teachings that inform them and a Christian experience that saves them. Supernatural discernment and spiritual revelation are foreign concepts.

Again, please hear my heart. I despise mean-spirited finger pointers who look down on others who “don't line up” with their definition of appropriate. I cringe to think I'd be one of them. At the same time I believe it's important to discuss some potentially irritating topics so we can all go deeper in Jesus. This is one of those topics.

There certainly is a difference between Charismatic and non-Charismatic churches. The theologies of cessationism and continuationism are definitely not the same. Those who endorse and practice spiritual gifts and those who don't are in different places.

A SPIRITUALLY ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE

It would only be fair to admit that even many of today's Spirit-filled churches have disengaged spiritually. They have stepped back from the movement of the Holy Spirit more and more in recent years. The glorious manifestations of an omnipotent, invisible God interacting with finite man are undeniably rare today.

My message is a call to all. Whether you affirm supernatural activity or not, I encourage you to dive deeper into the realm of the Spirit than you ever have in your life. It should be normal for everybody in today's church to have dreams and visions. Praying in tongues, prophecy and trembling in the fear of the Lord should be experienced by all. Supernatural boldness, signs, wonders and miracles and burning night and day with the fire of the Holy Spirit are our portion!

The church should be the place where Believers gather to collapse to the ground in groans of intercession. The place to boldly decree prophetic oracles, to prophesy and to get equipped in the Spirit.

Loud guitars, a perfectly orchestrated set, ripped jeans, fog, lights, friendly people, relevant talks about the Bible and programs for all is not what makes up a New Testament church. All of that can be there, but it's nothing more than paint on the walls. Decor. Instead of fog machines we need to contend for the mist of the Holy Spirit to descend into our churches. It should be difficult to stand at times as the cries of our heart explode out of us and as the weighty, tangible presence of God covers us.

Yes, a Spirit-filled church is something to behold. It's a place where God orchestrates everything and man gets out of the way. It's where God's presence is so thick that our human intellect cannot process what's happening. It's a revival atmosphere. It's a place of miracles. It's church.

The moment you experience it is the moment you understand that there's a stark difference between churches that promote Holy Spirit activity and those that don't. It's night and day, black and white. When you are swept over by the most powerful force in the world and filled with indescribable fire and love and freedom and joy, you'll never be able to go to a church that doesn't experience that.

I'm excited about the opportunity to introduce people who have never experienced this all-consuming fire, this invisible force, to something so wondrous that they are transformed for all eternity.

There is a supernatural force behind the lockdowns and a prophetic people must expose it.

3  And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4  and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) 1 Kings 18:3-4 (ESV)

While some may argue the merits of a lockdown as a natural, physical defense against the spread of a virus, I propose there is a very deliberate, strategic demonic strategy to shut down the churches and to shut up a prophetic generation. If the enemy can cause us to flee into our caves, and focus on natural survival, he wins.

This lockdown spirit (no, Lockdown isn't its name, it's simply descriptive of the spiritual assignment that very real, intelligent and wicked evil spirits are implementing) has convinced blood-bought Christians to cower, to willingly hide and to embrace restrictions as evidenced by the prophets in the caves living as prisoners on bread and water.

DISCERNING A SPIRITUAL ATTACK

The Bible tells us that spiritual things must be discerned spiritually (1 Corinthians 2:14) and that natural man cannot receive revelation at this level. It's not possible. Dealing with this or any crisis requires we elevate above the obvious. It doesn't require prophetic revelation to respond naturally. King Asa chose to seek after doctors instead of the Lord (2 Chronicles 16:12), and that natural response resulted in his death. Supernatural attacks require supernatural resolutions. Yes, wash your hands and listen to what the doctors say, but understand your solution will come from a much higher source.

There is a weighty, suffocating blanket that has rested upon this nation, and the resolve to keep advancing, working, producing and dreaming as visionaries of God is surrendering to this overwhelming spiritual pressure. Instead, people are shrinking back, laying down their assignments and “sheltering in place” as the enemy turns his slow prowl into a full-on, ravaging pounce on those who presumed themselves to be safe. They are not safe. A church that's not on the offensive has no defensive solution to what Satan brings. A shield alone is insufficient. We also need the sword. A prophetic voice is mandatory as we stand in great, unmoving, Elijah-level faith.

A hiding, relaxing, cowering church that is taking a wait-and-see approach clearly reveals an alliance with a soothing, seducing spirit that has offered a numbing sedative and a promise of protection. A refusal to struggle only makes the spider's mission to drain you of your sustenance that much easier as you rest in its web.

THE NATIONS SHOULD KNOW OUR NAMES

10  As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 1 Kings 18:10 (ESV)

The false prophetic systems of our day should be keenly aware of God's people, and we will know this is true when they resolve to seek and destroy not only our churches and our message, but our very lives. Elijah was a heavily sought after man, an enemy with a prize on his head. The kingdoms and nations all knew of Elijah's threat and they sought to neutralize him.

In fact, Elijah not only threatened nations and kingdoms, he threatened the people of God who were hiding in the caves. I find it interesting that the Bible reveals that they were limited to groups of fifty. We see this very strategy being implemented in today's crisis as church meetings, depending on the locality, are often limited to 10, 25 or 50 (or zero). I also find it interesting that most churches are absolutely okay with this spiritual lockdown, just as Obadiah and the prophets were in Elijah's day.

When anointed men and women of God raise their voice and refuse to be locked down, silenced or limited by the fearful taunts of governments, the religious, the media, plagues, demons and other false-prophetic voices, Christianity as a whole will be targeted.

Obadiah and the prophets of God were terrorized, terrified and in hiding. Obadiah himself was so timid that he resisted the instructions of God's messenger, Elijah. His fear of death was real and his strategy of hiding in caves seemed to be the safest and most obvious solution.

ALL EYES ON ELIJAH

30  Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. 1 Kings 18:30 (ESV)

Instead of Obadiah's plan to hide away, Elijah came from the opposite direction. Instead of eyes not being able to see timid prophets cowering in caves, Elijah said, “Come near to me.”

He refused to allow Ahab and Jezebel to usurp the authority of God and to allow for one moment more the assaults against God's prophets. All eyes were on Elijah as he restored the altar and called down fire. The result was a declaration that the Lord is God, the destruction of the false prophetic system and the end of the drought. Refreshing rains came to all.

38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40  And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. 1 Kings 18:38-40 (ESV)

COME OUT OF HIDING

We need every Believer in Jesus to come out of the caves, to renounce a slumbering and fearful spirit, to break off the lockdown spirit and to arise in the face of the prophetic wickedness that threatens God's people night and day.

It's time for Spirit-filled people to move in great authority and to command plagues, viruses, politicians and the spirit of the age to bow at the feet of Jesus! We will be silenced no longer! The spirit of Elijah will shame the spirit of lockdowns and timidity and restore the altar of the Lord in our nation!

When this happens, after ravings and violence, the enemy will finally shut up. The politicians and media will go silent. They will have nothing to say as their cries fall on deaf ears as their gods abandon them. Only people who operate in the spirit of Elijah can cause this to happen! Are you ready? Mighty voice of God, it's your time!

27  And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28  And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29  And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. 1 Kings 18:27-29 (ESV)

Where are the firebrands who will fearlessly confront the wicked systems of the day?

Handcuffs, ankle monitors and locked church buildings are the new normal for many Christians in America today. The state has threatened worshipers of Jesus at the same time they are opening the “essential” doors of Planned Parenthood wide. Somehow it's safe to congregate at Walmart, Home Depot, liquor stores and on golf courses but gathering in worship, prayer and repentance are a threat to national safety.

A closed church isn't the most disturbing reality, however.

PROPHETIC TROUBLERS

17  When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 1 Kings 18:17 (ESV)

The pathetic extent of many Christian's response to the lock-downs and governmental threats is to remind people to wash their hands as they shelter in place and fearfully wait it out as they hope for the best. It's shameful. Washing hands is a great common sense idea, but how can that be the best insight and advice a blood-bought, Spirit-filled, fire-breathing Christian can offer?

The most disturbing reality in the midst of this crisis is a muzzled, cowering church. Where are those who have a reputation as troublers? The church shouldn't be afraid of the United States government. The church should cause politicians to tremble!

The time is now for humble yet bold prophetic people to use every medium available to them to strike cultures and unholy systems with ferocity! Cast down arguments, assault wickedness and become defenders of our rights as Americans to assemble, to worship and to be free from tyranny. The Constitution wasn't written to protect us from a virus at the cost of our liberty. It is in place to protect our rights, and those rights aren't suspended in the midst of a pandemic or any other crisis.

After being accused of troubling Israel, Elijah, in the anointing of the Lord, struck back with the sword of truth:

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. 1 Kings 18:18 (ESV)

Holy indignation must erupt from within as we clearly stand against the threats, taunts and attempts to shut down the only governmental authority that outranks that of the United States of America: the church.

The secular leadership of our nation, our states and our localities need to hear loud and clear, whether they might identify as Believers in Jesus or not: America has abandoned the commandments of the Lord!

Troublers of America Arise! from John Burton on Vimeo.

POLITICS IN THE PULPIT

I would suggest pastors who refuse to consistently and without apology confront the spirit of the age, including vile cultural and political positions that are embraced, celebrated and promoted by our nation's leaders and influencers, have disqualified themselves from ministry. Ichabod may soon be stamped above the doorposts of their church if it hasn't been done already.

When pastors understand their prime call is to equip a prophetic people to expose and assault the kingdom of darkness, it will become clear that it's not possible to go silent on the politics and immoralities in the land.

Sadly, there is but a small number of fervent, devoted, highly trained and radically surrendered people who are prepared to respond to the taunts and assaults that the enemy is bringing through this testing season. Instead of equipping the people diligently over the last few decades, many pastors have instead played around in the shallows in the hopes that they keep everybody comfortable and happy. Instead of trained warriors they have produced sloths who have little interest in the things of the Spirit.

PROPHETIC SYSTEMS

21  And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)

Elijah demanded a decision. He fearlessly confronted leaders, false prophets and all of the people and called them out. He didn't stop there. He went to war in the power of God and ultimately killed all 450 of the prophets.

There are extremely powerful prophetic systems in America today that must be not only confronted but taken out via the power of the Holy Spirit. The media is prophesying lies twenty-four hours a day. Many politicians are releasing oracles that originate from wicked hearts that are in radical rebellion to God. Lawmakers are enforcing demonically influenced restrictions on the church. Satan is gaining ground while Christians sleep.

We need troublers of America to arise! This prophetic army will be deeply humble, surrendered and functioning from a place of sobriety. They won't sound mere opinions but will rather trumpet prophetic truths. They won't stand still when liberties that so many gave their lives to protect are ripped away from us. They will aggressively and with fire in their eyes stare down the enemy and remove him from his place.

It's time the unrighteous leaders of America hear loud and clear that they have been disobedient to the Lord God and that God has an awakened, equipped and determined people who will confront their unholy advances in this hour.

A REPAIRED ALTAR

31  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 1 Kings 18:31 (ESV)

Holy confrontation isn't the ultimate goal. A restored altar is. America must be taken back and we can't get there without you and I standing up boldly to the spirit of the age. Jezebel must go. False prophetic systems must go. The rains of refreshing must return but that will only happen as the nation repents as a result of God's people taking a stand.

A restored altar to the one true God in America is the goal. This is a season of divine reset and every one of us must shift dramatically. Repentance must hit us deeply as we renounce a casual, shallow life. Today is the day for you and everyone of us to respond to the call of the Lord to fight against deeply wicked systems in our nation. The altar will be built, the false prophets will die and the fire will fall. Only then can we call America a Christian nation again.

38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40  And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. 41  And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 1 Kings 18:38-41 (ESV)

Originally published on The Stream.

This should be the shock to the system that pastors need, or the next pandemic just may take the church out.

You'd expect the church to respond very differently than the world in the midst of crisis. Sadly, this hasn't always been the case. Social media is filled with freaked-out Christians who are absolutely terrified, spending their energies seeking out natural solutions to a supernatural situation. The fact that they can't disinfect their hands or wipe their, well, you know, has sent many into a frenzy. Something is terribly wrong and church as usual is no longer an option.

If ignoring, minimizing or seeking a natural solution to a demonic threat brings relief, don't presume you have won the battle. The entity is merely resting alongside you, thankful his foe has refused to fight.

The response is a glaring indictment on the church, and without question, the church must not ever allowed to go on as usual. This pandemic may be the catalyst to reformation the remnant has been crying out for.

THE CHURCH ISN'T READY

7  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; Revelation 19:7 (ESV)

In an age when so many Believers are merely concerned with their personal eternal security and so many others are sitting back waiting to be raptured before the trouble comes, it's clear that the church is far from ready for the end-time waves of crisis that are crashing down.

Global traumas like the coronavirus very well may play a part in determining the wheat and the tares. Who will rise up in great, unmovable faith and who will shrink back in fear? Those who know God will respond very differently than those who are mere pretenders.

32  …the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. Daniel 11:32 (NKJV)

So, the question for pastors and every Believer in the midst of trial is, how can we prepare? Yes, there are natural precautions we should take. There are spiritual reactions that are necessary too. Many are suggesting adopting house church/small group models. That very well may come into play, but that's a functional shift. There are spiritual shifts that are much more important.

TEN WAYS EVERY CHURCH MUST RESPOND

INSTITUTE STRATEGIC PRAYER

The days of simply attending a Sunday morning service where we worship a little, pray a little and listen to a sermon before heading back into the world for a week must come to an end immediately.

The primary focus of every legitimate Christian church must be fervent, passionate, powerful and strategic intercession. The days of simple prayer lists and prayer chains are over as the call to groans and cries of spiritual prayer explode out of the saints.

For years I've been campaigning for services that are marked by people laid out at the altars from start to finish as the Holy Spirit broods over them. Deep, guttural groans of intercession will be heard throughout the sanctuary every Sunday (and ultimately, every day of the week).

I am absolutely convinced that a church filled with tongues of fire will do more than any other single activity to make everybody ready for the coming storms.

1  When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

DEAL DIRECTLY WITH SPIRITS OF FEAR

It's astonishing how a very dark spirit of fear has blanketed the church. Fear results in unsettled, nervous reactions while faith results in a confident, peaceful, calculated response.

Pastors must introduce deliverance into their churches as a primary ministry. The spirits that are tormenting Christians have been exposed all over the world during the pandemic. I believe nearly all Christians need or have at one time needed deliverance. The enemy is especially attracted to children of God as he seeks to find open doors to latch on and destroy.

We cannot afford a scared, timid people who shrink back at the sight of their own shadow. This end-time season requires mighty warriors, an army who has annihilated fear and who will stare right through the darkness and expose the enemy and send him fleeing!

In fact, it very well may be time to allow those who are afraid to step back so the church can finally do what God has ordained it to do—fight and possess the land!

3  Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.' ” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. Judges 7:3 (NKJV)

DEVELOP A PROPHETIC CULTURE

Possibly a primary source of fear in the camp is the lack of foresight, the absence of prophetic revelation. Imagine how different everything would be if God's people were made ready in their spirits as God prepared them with all sorts of prophetic communication.

Dreams, visions, God's still small voice, words of wisdom, words of knowledge and other divine impressions are extremely powerful and necessary if everybody in the church is to weather the storm.

Every Christian must be both equipped and activated prophetically. The church needs to hear God's ever-present voice now more than ever. To have some people who are not tuned in compromises the camp and gives the enemy a very powerful and secure foothold.

19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)

GROW IN POWERFUL FAITH

There is an angry crowd of “Believers” who are demanding we “USE WISDOM!” regarding this crisis. I wish they'd shout “USE FAITH!” It's much more effective.

It's disappointing to see very little difference between the world and the redeemed in time of trouble. For so many, the initial and most powerful reaction is natural protection instead of supernatural advance. On social media I've run into an angry Christian crowd that snipes anyone who suggests peace, faith and authority over the schemes of the enemy are the answer. They see such counsel as a minimization of their human efforts and a threat to that strategy. I wonder just what counselor they are listening to.

They love to promote “wisdom” but tend to see faith as haphazard and even some sort of nonsensical supernatural voodoo. A life of true biblical faith is so foreign to them that the extent of their belief system is a cop-out by simply “trusting that God will do as he pleases.”

True faith looks nothing like that. It's confident, authoritative and declarative.

Pastors have no option but to repent of their silly anti-faith positions and to actually embrace some of the teachings they previously dismissed. Whether you appreciate the whole of who Kenneth Copeland (or similar ministers) is or not, you cannot deny the powerful truth on the subject of faith that he carries.

38  Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV)

GO DEEP IN THE WORD

The world needs pastors who have the smell of fire on them as they emerge from the prayer rooms and stand with great anointing and authority behind the pulpit. The low-level milk of Bible teaching must cease as the Spirit of God reveals the deep mysteries of Scripture.

The people of God must be students of the inerrant Word, allowing the truth to radically transform them. Times like this require a spiritual response, and the foundation of God's wisdom is found in his timeless Word.

The tired Sunday School style sermons must cease as earth-shaking revelation from God's Word shakes us to our core, and equips us as mighty end-time soldiers.

12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

DEAL DIRECTLY WITH SIN

The greatest debilitating factor in the church by far is unaddressed sin. A church that isn't pure, holy and consecrated is a liability, a breeding ground for demonic manifestation and a magnet for God's judgment.

Hellfire preaching must return to the church and a call to intense consecration is simply mandatory if we hope to endure to the end.

The Bible clearly instructs certain people to be removed from fellowship, but it's rare to find a leadership team that is willing to follow those orders. I propose it's either an attempt to extend more mercy than God himself is, or the leadership are steeped in the same sins themselves.

11  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. 12  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13  But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (NKJV)

5  deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV)

TEACH ON THE END-TIMES

I believe the church's greatest hour will be during the Great Tribulation. I understand that many others don't believe that at all. Eschatology is a volatile topic, but we can't afford to ignore it any longer.

It's laughable to think the church is ready to endure such a terrible Tribulation period, even though God's wrath won't be expressed on his true church in that season. The measure of protection we'll have will be enough for us to have an opportunity to stay true to God and to proclaim his truth.

Yet, today, with a comparatively very minor crisis in the world, the church is failing miserably. The church isn't ready. We need leaders who will emphasize the trials that are coming, whether they occur during the Tribulation period or not. We are in the end-times, and the end itself draws nearer every moment.

I believe a casual approach and the thought that we'll be raptured away is detrimental and will cost potentially millions of Christians their very salvation. The falling away will be very great as countless Believers fail the test and don't endure to the end. Their blood will be on the hands of the pastors for failing to prepare them.

EQUIP IN SIGNS, WONDERS, HEALINGS AND MIRACLES

I've been sadly stunned at the number of professing Christians who have little to no confidence in God's supernatural ability, and have even less confidence in their authority to move in wonders themselves.

Training in signs, wonders, healings and miracles can't be delayed for another moment. We need a supernaturally charged people who are fiercely opposed to the illegal activity of the enemy. This includes fear, sickness, poverty and other assaults of the devil.

The church needs to learn the difference between God-ordained pestilence and devil-initiated attacks. From that place, the church can rise up and function in absolutely remarkable signs and wonders as a traumatized world looks on and witnesses God in action. Hope will flood in and countless desperate lost people will be saved.

29  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30  by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31 (NKJV)

KEEP ETERNITY IN FOCUS

The fact that Christians pay little attention to eternity and that their gaze is on the here and now has never been more evident in this generation than it is today. Instead of having peace and confidence about spending an eternity with Jesus, and being excited about that, so many are fearful and anxious about a virus that, in their minds, has the power to kill.

It's time for our preaching to be zeroed in on eternity and to prepare people for the place they will be living forever. I am personally gripped by forever, by the expectation of the glories of the age to come. Do I want to die before my time? Of course not. But, I place myself in God's hands, and I battle the enemy's attempts to bring destruction to me and I trust that I will go not a second before or after my designated time.

55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)

PREPARE TO GO UNDERGROUND

As easy as it was for our government to force everybody indoors, and to cancel everything from sporting events to church services, and to threaten imprisonment for those who defy the orders, we better be preparing the people to go underground.

We can't presume the internet will be available. We can't expect to be able to freely gather. There will come a time when we will have to choose to obey God rather then men and gather, illegally, to worship, pray and unite as Believers.

Read this passage and be ready to expect a very similar scenario as the end draws near:

27  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28  saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29  But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30  The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33  When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. Acts 5:27-33 (ESV)

FINAL THOUGHTS

The call is for pastors to embrace a mighty shift in the church. Church as usual is no longer an option. We must see the people equipped as mighty men and women of great faith, fervent intercession, workers of miracles and prophetic instruments in the hands of God.

I'm often asked how to experience God on a regular basis. I do believe there's an answer, but it's not a simple one.

There's a phenomenal opportunity available to every legitimate follower of Jesus: an indescribable and life-rocking encounter with an invisible, all-powerful Deity. Sadly so few do what's necessary to live in this realm where the Holy Spirit reveals his shock and awe to the children of God.

It seems so many are satisfied living a typical, logical life in the natural realm. The idea that we can be overwhelmed by a Spirit and experience unimaginable manifestations that only exist beyond where our eyes and ears can discern is silliness to them. Twilight Zone. X-Files. Science fiction.

Yet, to others, it's not far-reaching at all. They yearn to meet God in this place but they don't know how to get there. It's those hungry people I'd like to try to encourage.

THE RECIPE FOR ENCOUNTER

RAW, RISKY BELIEF

5  …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)

Intellectualism may be the greatest killer of faith and supernatural encounter among those who are truly living for the Lord. Their left-brained approach to invisible and mystical realities rarely works. When it does, you usually have to take the long way around.

My passion is for God to encounter me in ways my natural, logical, intellectual capacities could never predict, gauge or moderate. The moment I limit this to my own understanding or my careful analysis is the moment I've diminished my hope of moving into that spiritual realm that exists beyond what can be grasped.

The “I have to see it to believe it” mantra doesn't work in a “walk by faith, not by sight” Kingdom. Having to understand it before seeing it doesn't usually work very well either.

Of course, I'm not proposing a renunciation of the pursuit of understanding. However, when logical understanding must come first, before the other-worldly revelation that God wants us to experience, we short circuit the supernatural happenings.

While many would argue that seeing is believing, for Christians the opposite is true. Believing is seeing…and encountering, and being shocked by the fire and power of the Holy Spirit!

5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

DESPERATE HUNGER

I'll never forget the night many years ago that changed my life. I witnessed God doing remarkable things in the lives of some of my friends. These seemingly normal American guys who were grunting on the basketball court and staying up to all hours playing video games were also undone by an unseen force. I'd watch them weeping in prayer, pacing the church and crying out to God for him to move. These people had tapped into something that I convinced wasn't invented. It wasn't fake. It was real and I had to meet God they way they had.

Alone one night, I paced around the youth room of the church, feeling nothing but desperation. I prayed a simple prayer, the only one I could. “God, you know my heart.” That's it. Over and over I was talking to God using those words, revealing the depths of my hunger in a simple statement. God knew how deeply I desired to know him.

The rest is history. My eternity has forever been altered by that simple yet overwhelming prayer. Shortly after, he flooded into my life in a way that could never be described by using human words, though I'll try. Extreme boldness replaced timidity in a split second. A tangible force shook my being. Passion for Jesus was instantaneous. There was a power source connected to me and I was radiating with fire.

I didn't seek to understand what I was pursuing. I was simply desperate. Hungry. Willing to surrender all. In fact, I told God in the days preceding this momentous experience that I didn't want anything to do with him if he “wasn't all that he was cracked up to be.” I wasn't interested in fairy tales or following some religious icon who didn't heal, couldn't deliver and wasn't omnipotent, good and alive. However, I also said, “But if you are all of this, I will die for you.”

PASSIONATE PRAYER

While an initial encounter may not require a disciplined life of intercession, I've discovered that a regular, continual encounter with Jesus absolutely does. It's in the place of fervent, fiery prayer, especially praying in tongues, where the presence of God is constant, and very often extremely intense.

Some may wonder why it's so important to contend for encounter. They may see it as unnecessary and possibly even evidence of an imbalanced or immature person, someone who is driven by emotions or strange, mystical rushes of adrenaline. Oh my, this couldn't be further from the truth. Encounter is absolutely necessary for every blood-bought Christian.

As we walk in great faith and hunger with great desperation, the cries of our heart and the intercession of the Holy Spirit through us will launch us into the place where God can be clearly heard. We can discern his heart. He can reveal mysteries to us. Critical information, some of life and death, is transmitted to us through impressions, dreams, visions or other prophetic means. Simply, if we aren't living in encounter, we are tragically limited to our own understanding, the very understanding the Bible instructs us not to lean on.

But, as we pray in the Spirit, everything changes. The heavens open. God's voice resounds. An inner tremble shakes within. Our daily lives become adventures as God takes the reigns and gives us direction that can only be received via the Spirit.

DEEP HUMILITY

God resists the proud. This is why I firmly believe the gateway to deeper levels in the Spirit includes many opportunities for humiliation.

I'll never forget meeting a young lady at an event who was a part of another church. She told me she so wanted to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but had no idea how to do so. She was unpretentious and authentic as she shared her expectancy for what was going to happen at the worship conference we all converged at in Los Angeles.

I don't have space to explain what happened the next night other than to say, this hungry young lady was suddenly, without warning, flopping all over the ground as strange and wonderful new sounds were exploding from her mouth. God's activity in that moment hit her and many others, including myself. I was suddenly on the floor experiencing an extremely weighty manifestation of God's glory that wouldn't dissipate until the next day. The presence of God in that moment was something I can still remember, though it's been over twenty years since it happened.

Humility caused this young lady to dismiss how she might look to the hundreds of people all around as supernatural God invaded her natural self. She wanted God. She was hungry at a level few experience. She was filled.

UNAPOLOGETIC HOLINESS

If you think a very Holy Spirit is going to brood over you and manifest in and through you as you are living an unholy life, you have been terribly deceived. Holiness is absolutely mandatory if we have any hope of God moving remarkably in our lives. This is such common sense, yet so many Christians can't understand why they aren't being consumed by God's Holy Spirit.

You simply cannot watch movies, TV and other media that contains foul language, nudity, coarse joking and other immorality and think you are a candidate for encounter. You are kidding yourself. In fact, why would you want the Holy Spirit if that's your chosen lifestyle? You are only inviting conviction if not judgment.

I encourage everybody to eliminate all secular music and listen to nothing but anointed worship music. I even suggest doing away with most contemporary Christian music and pumping music through their headphones that carries the unusual fire and glory of God.

Those who have taken me up on this, time after time, experience dramatic breakthrough. Those who don't tend to trend downwards.

14  …For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)

WILLING MARTYRDOM

Possibly the quickest shortcut to living a life of dramatic, supernatural encounter with God is to sign up as a martyr.

We are called to die daily, to take up our crosses and to love life not unto death. This is our portion as Christians. The key moment in my personal life came shortly after my initial encounter I described above. Do you remember that I told God I'd die for him? He was listening.

From my article Risks of the Upcoming Presence Movement:

One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.

I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.

Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.

I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.

Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.

Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”

Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.

Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.

I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”

The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.

ZEAL FOR THE WORD OF GOD

As I reveal the final ingredient of the secret sauce of encounter, I can feel the naysayers breathing down my neck right now. They are riled up at the thought of focusing on the experiential, on the suggestion that faith trumps logic, on the mystical, invisible and on what they would call hyper-Charismatic fluff.

I'll try to put them at ease. Nothing I am proposing can defy Scriptural truth. If there's ever a contradiction, it must be eliminated. This means that we must be students of the Word. There should be a burning zeal in us for the powerful, eternal and non-negotiable truths of Scripture.

However, while many would hold up the giant family Bible in the air as a defense against the supposed superstition that I'm dealing with here, true Bereans will excitedly search the Word to see what powerful revelations it holds.

From my article What To Do When We Hear Rumors Of Revival:

11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:11-12 (ESV)

Belief and expectancy will result in running as a result of any news that God has moved with great passion. Doubt will always result in resistance, staying away and embracing suspicion.

I often hear about the concept of being a Berean from some who may be considered heresy hunters. Those who are deeply suspicious of any report of a fresh move of God often attempt to disguise their unbelief and mocking spirit with a religious cloak. They say, I’m just being a Berean.

People driven by a false Berean attitude hear a report of a possible revival or outpouring and their immediate response is to discredit it. They pull out scriptures that supposedly renounce any new move of God and declare the participants to be misguided at best, heretics at worst. Others may take a less direct approach by holding back, waiting to see if it passes muster.

That, my friend, is not being a Berean.

I agree that we must be based on the Word of God more intentionally than ever in history. There is too much foolishness out there today in the name of revival. The answer is a people who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and firmly grounded as students in the Bible.

However, I don’t agree that our immediate response to a potential fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God should be suspicion! This attitude can affect even the most godly of people. It’s all too easy to immediately doubt that such a move could be anything more than overreaching hope, hype or sensationalism.

I propose we all have the heart of a true Berean.

Before the stop at Berea, Paul preached about a powerful fresh move of God at Thessalonica. I believe heresy hunters are actually more like the Thessalonians than the Bereans:

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:2-7 (ESV)

There was an urgent and immediate rejection of the report of resurrection power. Let’s contrast this with the pure hearts of the Bereans:

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:10-13 (ESV)

This is a powerful passage of scripture!

The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica. This is an important point! Why were they more noble? When they heard the report of a powerful, transforming, new move of God that would change everything in their lives, they received the word with all eagerness!

Their response was not scrutiny, unbelief, jealousy or resistance. They were excited to hear the news! They were so impacted by the potential of such a report that they immediately dove into the Word with the hope of confirming—not disproving—the life altering revelation!

But then, in verse 13, we see the unrelenting Thessalonians actually traveling to Berea to gather people to them in opposition to what God was doing there.

I hope you are truly ready for revival. This is what it looks like. The resistors will show up in force.

The question that needs to be answered is, which camp will you be in? Are you a scrutinizing Thessalonian or an eager Berean?

Exactly what value is there in prophesying all the great and wonderful things that are coming in the new year and in the next decade if we aren't dying to self and catching fire for Jesus?

Before all of you prophetic folks get triggered, understand that I am a mega-proponent of legitimate prophecy. While there is a seriously unhealthy prophetic culture in our nation today, God is still speaking and we need mature, broken and consecrated prophetic people to relay critical information. The messengers most certainly must cry out and awaken the church in these end times.

That being said, the prophetic nonsense must stop. Not once have I read or heard about any prophecy for 2020 that includes judgment, correction, rebuke or warning. To stuff our spiritual faces with nothing but happy prophetic thoughts is utter foolishness at best. At worst it will seal the fate of our nation as one that started godly and ended suddenly under God's wrath.

33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. Jeremiah 32:33-35 (ESV)

While there are many amazing, consecrated and anointed men and women of God in our nation, people who tremble in the fear of the Lord and who are standing for righteousness, there are many more who are casual, lukewarm and sleepwalking.

Abortion is destroying the next generation as children are sacrificed at the altar of Molech. You'd be shocked at how few pastors and prophets speak out against it. You'd be sickened at how many actually support abortion. Homosexual activists are forcing their agenda, pornography is being devoured by the high majority of Christians including pastors and leaders and it's nearly impossible to find a church with a spirit of prayer driving it. We are in crisis yet the prophets seem to think God is well pleased and ready to pour out blessing without any thought of dealing with the depravity that both the church and our culture refuse to renounce.

LYING PROPHETS

16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Jeremiah 23:16-18 (ESV)

Am I saying we can never prophecy blessing, promotion and open doors? No, I'm not. What I am saying is that simply focusing on the positive to the exclusion of the undeniable and terrifying reality that's staring us in the face is a serious misuse of a prophetic gift. Effectively, it's lying. Even worse, it's taking God's name in vain as his name is attached to impure and/or incomplete messages.

It's time the professional prophetic voices take a break and follow the instructions of Jeremiah 23:18. We need every prophetic person to give themselves night and day to prayer, consecration, tears, groans of intercession and the fear of the Lord. We all must stand in the council of the Lord!

There are warnings that must be sounded so we know how to respond. I can see America collapsing and people fuming in anger asking why nobody warned them of what was to come. Where were the prophets, they will say.

To publish word after word about how blessing and promotion is our portion in 2020 will do little to nothing to prepare the people for what is to come. Honestly, it doesn't take much of a prophetic gifting at all to know the call for 2020 must be radical consecration, intercession, repentance and a fresh revelation of both the love and the fear of the Lord. We must stand in his council.

A LUKEWARM CHURCH

An apathetic, lukewarm church is at serious risk. Apathetic, lukewarm followers of Jesus are as well.

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV)

Where are the prophets who are warning the church that God himself will come against it? Where are those who are shaking people out of their mediocrity and casual connection to God, awakening them from a lethal slumber? Do we even realize how dangerous such a life of apathy is? Most don't. The prophets aren't telling them. The pastors aren't either.

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If we aren't burning white-hot on fire for Jesus we better stop and consider where we are in God. Our passion, fire and level of intimacy with Jesus absolutely impacts where we will spend eternity, not to mention the future of our nation. There are millions of people who are lifting their hands in worship, praying, reading their Bible, serving and “living right” as they faithfully follow Jesus in an unsaved condition. They don't have passion for Jesus and they have no oil in their lamps.

16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:16-17 (ESV)
8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:8-13 (ESV)

AN ARMY OF PROPHETIC WARRIORS

We must see prophetic schools emerge, training young and old to step into an assignment that has been mostly ignored by the current generation. We need an army of prophetic warriors, and warners, to emerge, people who have zero fear of man and who are functioning with the penetrating love of God that is perfectly synchronized with the paralyzing fear of God.

These warriors will spend their lives trembling, crying and interceding in the fire, standing in the council of God and releasing strike after strike of prophetic shock waves into our churches, regions and the nations of the earth.

While I am cautiously thankful for our President, and I do believe God is doing great things through him, I believe the prophets have erred in one critical area: many of them have prophesied President Trump's emergence as the goal, as the end game, as the answer to our nation's woes. The result is a people who are now putting too much hope in a man without concern for their own holiness, passion or part in the story. The prophets must call God's people to repentance. This nation's ills should be resolved by the church, but instead much of the church has abdicated that responsibility to a politician. Again, I am thankful God is using him, but I am also grieved that we have placed so much reliance on him. This national problem lays squarely at the feet of the prophets.

The army of raw, undignified and irritating prophetic messengers that God is raising up will bring a correction to this prophetic crisis. They will have no tolerance for the prophetic games that are being played by so many today. The terror of the Lord will drive them. Low level, feel good, happy words won't be entertained. In fact, they will irritate their spirits.

Too often those who are immature in the prophetic will communicate a low level impression or an uninvited, spontaneous thought as a prophetic word. The more abstract or unusual it is, the more they think it's God.

Folks, most of the time these are simple imaginations. We have to stop encouraging people to prophesy haphazardly. So many of today's prophets never matured out of this, but have been elevated to the public stage because of their charisma. As a result, the words that are coming out of their mouths are meant to create a positive vibe among the people and to enhance their ministry. They know negative words of judgment and correction won't do that. For the sake of their status they steer clear of such prophecy.

2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV)

A lot of itching ears in our nation can support a prophetic ministry very nicely. Well, a false prophetic ministry, at least. The emerging army of prophetic warriors won't care at all about money. The thought of focusing on building their ministry and solidifying their status is nonsense to them. The fear of people attacking them, speaking out against them and causing them trouble doesn't exist. Filling up their ministry calendar isn't a goal. They'd rather turn down invitations than accept them if God isn't burning in them to go.

2020 is here. Does God have good plans for his true, remnant church? Sure. However, his true church isn't mostly concerned about that. Those aren't the words they want to hear. They are in tune with the assault of the spirit of the age, with the immorality in the land, with the abominations that both the world and the church are in alignment with and with possible judgment and wrath that can strike our nation if we don't turn. They are crying out for God to prophetically speak about this stuff. They want to be warned and they want to share those warnings with the world.

I'm not saying the following passage is a prophetic word, but it sure is a much better exhortation than many I'm reading concerning the new year. I propose we do this:

13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (ESV)

Disqualified people are rushing to social media to establish illegitimate ministries. Are pastors to blame?

There's a level of toxicity regarding the prophetic in today's churches that must be addressed if we hope to hear God's voice and advance with clarity and power in these end times.

People who have had their ministries rejected in the church are taking their services to Facebook and other social communities in hopes of developing influence. The problem? Influence without authority is birthed out of deep dysfunction and it can lead people into that same dysfunctional, unauthorized spirituality.

They would argue they receive their authority and their authorization from God directly. This tired argument is evidence of resistance to being rightfully responsive to flesh and bone people that God has called us to serve and honor. We don't have the option to reject human authority while, in the same breath, attempting to establish ourselves as an authority. It's silliness.

Listen to the podcast on this topic…

PROPHECY IS CRITICAL IN THE CHURCH TODAY

We cannot go on without pure, potent and mature prophecy filling our churches every single week. The lack of God's rhema voice is telling as churches are resorting more and more to sociological mind tricks instead of advancing according to supernatural revelation.

It has become quite rare to see a body that's healthy and strong in the prophetic as people are rightly equipped and released to communicate oracles from heaven. Faith is epidemically low as millions of Christians have no idea what God's voice sounds like.

17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

The word “word” in the above verse is translated as rhema. This is the “now” word of God, the revelation whether it's a prophetic word or the words of Scripture leaping off the pages. When this active, precise and timely message from God pierces a people, faith skyrockets.

Not only does a strong prophetic culture give a local church body the ability to move ahead in the direction God has determined, but everybody involved is wildly invested as a result of hearing God speak. True prophetic messages don't stop at the ears or the mind, but they sear our spirits and impact our emotions like no other message can. When this happens, faith goes up and we respond in unity, power and joy.

Sadly, most churches could not be described as prophetic churches. There are reasons for this. Blame rests both on the pastor and on the people. Let's deal with the people first.

10 REASONS WHY PASTORS DON'T LET YOU PROPHESY IN CHURCH SERVICES

ONE: A LACK OF HUMILITY

I'll begin by communicating loud and clear something many prophetic people won't want to hear: never, ever start attending a church with the intention of mentoring, teaching or refining the pastor via prophecy or otherwise. What arrogance it must take for you to presume such an uninvited role in your church. If your wealth of wisdom, knowledge and experience are needed, be sure the pastor will request your counsel. Otherwise, keep quiet.

Whether in this scenario or another, pastors have no use for people who want to minster to those they have been commissioned to protect if they aren't truly humble. Meekness is a prerequisite for prophetic ministry as any measure of arrogance or selfish ambition will taint the messages being delivered.

This following passage of Scripture speaks to this issue perfectly:

13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17 (NKJV)

Wisdom is demonic if self-seeking and envy is what drives it. Follow the advice in verse seventeen and be willing to yield.

TWO: DISORDER

Speaking of being willing to yield, undisciplined prophetic people tend to enjoy rebelling against the order of the house. Influencing the service with the spiritualized sound of their voice is what drives them.

Many years ago as I was planting my first church a visitor asked me about our prophetic protocol. I explained that we value prophecy and that she could deliver a prophetic word to me or leadership for review during the worship service. She didn't like that answer. She went on to say that she would have to interrupt the service, even if I were preaching, if God gave her a prophetic word for the body.

Ummm, nope. She presumed her supposed prophetic insight was important enough to violate order. We were interested in investing in her and in her prophetic gift and in developing a very active, life-giving prophetic culture, but she didn't want to function within those boundaries. She ended up leaving the church and we were the better for it.

THREE: IMMATURITY

There's a difference between someone who is actively and willingly growing in their gift and someone who refuses to grow up. Those who are intentionally undisciplined and who are not giving themselves to everything that needs to be done to grow and develop their gifting should not be set free to prophesy in the church. A lot of damage can be done.

These people love to prophesy, but you don't see them in the prayer rooms. They are unresponsive to leadership. They aren't in the Word.

12  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)

Those who are prophesying are most definitely functioning in the arena of spiritual discernment. If they cannot discern spiritually due to a lack of maturity, there's no way they can be trusted to deliver prophetic words. Does this mean their prophecy is always wrong? No. But it means they are reckless in their devotion to stewarding their gift, and if they are driven by the wrong spirit, they can do damage.

FOUR: ADVERSE TO CORRECTION

There's no pastor alive who should allow someone to influence the body who won't take correction. This is not only an indicator of immaturity, but also of a dangerous, unsubmitted person. It reveals their heart and that's a heart that should never be trusted to minister.

1  Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV)

Enough said.

FIVE: YOU WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

The pastor has the right and responsibility to refuse to allow someone to deliver a prophetic word (or to minister in any fashion) if he chooses. If someone reacts wrongly to this, that's evidence enough that they shouldn't have been allowed to share the message.

Understand, much of the time a leader will disallow a prophetic word simply because he doesn't feel it fits. It may have nothing to do with the character of the person who desires to share the word. It may just be a timing issue. We need to yield to our leaders and not get uptight or feel rejected if they don't believe our ministry is appropriate at that time.

If you are a prophetic person, you need to understand that what you wish to share in a public setting isn't always what others feel should be shared. Since you are a person under authority, you need to be okay with the reality that your leaders may not want you to share your revelation at times. If not, you'll grow bitter very quickly, and then we should run far and fast from any prophetic word you try to impose on us.

SIX: A POOR TRACK RECORD

It wouldn't make sense for a pastor to allow someone to preach on a Sunday morning if they have a history of teaching error. Further, they shouldn't allow someone to minister as a part of the worship team if they are always off key or don't show up for rehearsals on time. This simple and obvious realty applies to prophetic people as well.

If they repeatedly deliver wrong, confusing or unscriptural messages, they can't be allowed to continue. Pastors must ensure truth is communicated and if someone can't be trusted to deliver truth, they must be benched until they can grow as a Believer.

SEVEN: MANIPULATION

This is a big, big point and I want to make sure I have your full attention: If you are attempting to use your supposed prophetic gift to steer the church in a direction not sanctioned by the leadership, you are functioning in witchcraft. You are in rebellion and your ministry is dark and it should not be tolerated.

Charismatic witchcraft is rampant and we must have bold pastors who fear God more than man to deal very aggressively with it. If you are operating in this unruly spirit and attempting to pass it off as prophecy, you need to go. Leave. Don't come back. I'd be quick to show someone like this the door, unless they were truly repentant.

Don't underestimate the damage that such a demonic spirit can do in a church, especially if the leaders God ordained to protect the flock refuse to act. Their silence can kill an entire church, and it happens every day.

God will protect a leader who is “wrong” (I'm not talking about sin, I'm talking about organizational direction) before he affirms a prophetic person who is “right” yet manipulative, rebellious and fueled by an evil spirit of witchcraft.

EIGHT: DOMINATING THE SERVICE

There goes Sister Linda again! Oh, Brother Joe is about to stand up and deliver a word…I can just feel it!

We know the all too predictable scenario all too well. In many churches there's one or two people who, week after week, dominate the prophetic culture by delivering word after word after word after word after word…you get it.

Again, the counsel is to yield! Do you have any idea how much cringing goes on in the church, by the pastor and by most of the body, when the same people are giving nearly the same words in most every service? Oh, it's true. The cringe factor is high.

Pastors, the body is often wondering why you don't put a stop to it. You need to do your job and lovingly encourage these types of people on how to rightly minister in your local church setting.

NINE: GOSSIP

Closely related to manipulation, and equally as deadly, is gossip. Sadly, unrestrained prophetic people are famous for their ability to gossip. Stopping with a manipulative prophetic word is definitely not enough for them. When leadership doesn't change the course of the church after repeated doses of prophetic pressure, their next step is to gather people around them and to sell their perspective. Any good charismatic witch would do just that. All it takes is a Christianized coven meeting to give real power to their motives.

Gossips are some of Satan's most anointed salesmen, and when that person is looked up to as a prophetic voice, you have some incredible manipulative, supernatural and extremely evil power behind their words. They can destroy a church overnight, and they cannot be tolerated.

TEN: YOU ARE NEEDY/YOU HAVE IDENTITY ISSUES

People who need to minister for the sake of affirmation, or to feed their misguided identities, shouldn't be given a platform, unless that platform is at the altar. Too many wounded prophetic people have developed a craving for affirmation in their gifting, and that weakness has compromised that gift, no matter how precise or developed it is.

Our identity must be found in nobody and nothing else than Jesus. It should be easy to lay our gifts and callings down, with the only grief coming from our passion to see lives transformed. Our own need to minister should never be a factor.

Those who need to minister should not be allowed to minister. Instead, they should spend time with Jesus and give themselves to the process of healing. Then, they will be free, healthy and trustworthy when it's time to step into ministry again.

PASTORS, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE NEED FROM YOU REGARDING THEIR PROPHETIC CALLING

ONE: EQUIPPING

A key reason there's so much dysfunction in prophetic people today, and a reason they are running to Facebook to minister, is because pastors have failed to equip them. It's as simple as that. Prophetic people are yearning to be trained, but it's nearly impossible to find a church today that includes a prophetic school as a part of their foundational culture. Heck, you can barely find a Sunday School class focusing on it.

Pastors, it's your responsibility to equip the people in the prophetic. How can you hear what God is saying if you don't? Church is a corporate venture, and while you are the point person, and while God will speak directly to you in most situations, you need others to confirm those words and to introduce additional revelation that's critical for the mission.

If you shut down the prophetic in your services to avoid the issues I addressed above, you are wrong. It's as clear as that. Their failure is most often your failure.

19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)

TWO: AN OUTLET

People need an outlet. Prophetic messengers especially must have a place to release their revelations. If not in the church, then where? If not in a safe place with the oversight of leadership it will happen unmoderated, uncontrolled and undisciplined in public.

Pastors, you have no option but to nurture your prophetic culture in such a way that the body can minister the various impacts the Spirit of God is having on them. If they are muzzled they will most usually break free and unleash those words from a place of rebellion. Their rebellion is not only their fault. Very often, it's also yours.

26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)

THREE: FEEDBACK

Prophetic people want feedback. Those who are thin skinned will be revealed, which is advantageous to you. Those who are truly humble and teachable will come alive as you share your heart regarding their ministry.

Did they prophesy from a healthy heart? Let them know. Was their message a little confusing? Coach them. Be invested in their development and your church will be the better for it.

FOUR: NO FAVORITISM

First things first. It's okay for pastors to acknowledge prophetic people who have passed tests, proven themselves and been faithful. They absolutely should be favored. Further, those who have failed the tests should not be favored.

That being said, all things being equal, it's important that pastors give room to everybody who's healthy and ready to minister. The young need room to grow, the new people need a family to thrive in and those who have been trusted for years need to mentor the next generation.

If you want to ensure a church stays in a spiritual rut, refuse to acknowledge anybody except those who have been in the inner circle for decades.

FIVE: A RIGHT RESPONSE

Prophetic people don't simply want to share a legitimate word from God. They are excited about the shift in the atmosphere that it will bring. Too often, pastors want to grab the reigns as fast as possible after a prophetic word is given and redirect back in the previous direction.

Pastors must humbly admit that God will use prophetic people to bring fresh wind that demands the sails are repositioned so the boat starts moving the direction the Holy Spirit desires. These prophetic people simply want to see the fruit of their obedience to release oracles instead of the resistance and rejection that is so commonplace in the church today.

SIX: ENCOURAGEMENT 

Everybody needs encouragement, especially prophetic people! Speak life into them and let them know how blessed you are because of their ministry. Thank them for their heart, for their devotion to humility, for their growth. Let them know you see them developing and that you appreciate them. A healthy, loved and encouraged prophetic person is a valuable member of your team.

SEVEN: VALIDATION

There comes a time to publicly validate a ministry. This holds true for every ministry, but it seems those with prophetic callings are all too often overlooked. If someone has passed tests and proven themselves, over an extended period of time, let the body know you trust them and that their ministry is valid.

Not only will this encourage the individual and give them a track to run on, it will show everybody else the type of person and what it takes to be validated. It will give them a goal. It will communicate that others, who have not proven themselves, are not affirmed, at least not at that level.

VICE VERSA

A bunch of the above points could be applied to the other party. Pastors also must be humble. They shouldn't manipulate. They must be mature, teachable and not a gossip.

The prophetic person should encourage their pastor. They should have a right response to leadership.

However, lets start the way I laid it out. We must see health come to the church, especially today, and most certainly in the arena of the prophetic.

God has a lot to say to us.