The only hope for America? Churches that promote extreme Holy Spirit encounters

Churches that don't fan the flames of intense Holy Spirit activity need to go.

Like so many, I'm crying out for an earth-shocking move of God, an undeniable invasion of supernatural power that will drive us to our knees. The tears and the tremble that result will never leave us. Our very reason for existing will shift in an instant knowing we have just encountered Deity. 

The church has both the call and the authority to usher in such a holy visitation. Tragically, many have left the church with deep frustrations, giving up after holding out such high hope that revival would be the prime focus. Hosting the presence of God with the ultimate goal of igniting a regional outpouring is simply not the supreme motive of most churches today. Sure, many pastors and leaders would give a hearty head nod to the idea, but when it's time to contend, those who have refused to put down the weapons of warfare are few.

EMBRACE THE WEIRD

A pastor friend of mine recently mentioned the reason why so many in his Charismatic/Pentecostal denomination shy away from pursuing revival. They are “afraid of weird.” 

I've said often that as a leader, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. I fully embrace the weird. We need pastors who no longer care very much about how many mortals they have in the pews and start crying out for our immortal, fearful and omnipotent God to come! Oh yes, it will get wonderfully, supernaturally weird! Revival is messy, otherworldly, hard to understand and impossible to contain.

This is actually the problem. Many of today's pastors and leaders prefer a controlled flame to a wildfire. God is yearning to blow the winds of the Spirit over fast spreading fire that threatens everything in its path. He wants to consume homes, businesses and all his fiery love can overcome. He doesn't want containment. This fire must be wild.

NO MORE (SPIRIT-FILLED) CHURCH AS USUAL

Many have been campaigning for an end of church as usual. We need to take it a step further. It's easy for the Spirit-filled crowd to presume they have it. They are open to the moving of the Spirit of God and, as a result, have somehow arrived. This couldn't be further from the truth.

If a church genuinely wants the fire, they can no longer shut up the tongues. Tongues of fire must be unleashed in our churches again!

How rare is it to find supposed Spirit-filled churches that are roaring from groans that can't be uttered? The explosive, guttural cries of supernatural fire erupting out of the mouths of desperate people is a rare experience today. After all, that's weird and many of today's Charismatic pastors avoid it like the plague. 

We are all familiar with a typical Spirit-filled church service. You'll get some extended, nicely polished worship along with some lifted hands, dancing and shouts. Sometimes people will fall over when prayed for which is a sure sign you are in a Charismatic church. A long, enthusiastic sermon comes next followed by quality time at the altars. You are with me, right? We've all been there, done that.

Of course, all of what I described, if authentic, is very good. Very, very good.

However, it's not nearly what is needed if we want God's supernatural presence to absolutely overwhelm us. Revival doesn't launch from such a predictable, controllable church strategy.

A FORMULA FOR FIRE

To take the church from tired, predictable services into the mission of revival requires a significant shift in strategy. Carefully crafting a smooth, vibrant, mildly supernatural Sunday church experience will never suffice. Churches that refuse to go into the depths in these end-times should go. They are standing in the way of legitimate revival in their city and are robbing God's people of the opportunity to experience an outpouring.

While churches may be exceptionally good at any number of things, including growth, outreach, teaching, encouraging and discipleship, if they aren't doing it in the fire, they have become a liability in the Kingdom. Pastors may be brilliant leaders with thousands of people showing up to hear what they have to say each week, but without the knee-bending wind of the Spirit of God howling through the church, what's the point?

Here are some of the key steps for promoting a wildfire revival.

A REMNANT MINDSET

In order for revival to become job one in the church today, the seeker mindset of old must go. We have to be ready and willing to allow the majority to exit our churches never to return if that is, in fact, the required cost of revival. Pastors, find your remnant and burn hot with them. Until we realize the church is more about ministering to God than it is ministering to people we'll never even take the first step toward an outpouring. Pastors need an army of locked-in people who aren't showing up for themselves, but rather as sacrificial warriors who are ready to pierce the darkness as a single unit.

TONGUES AND GROANS

From my article, The Tone of the Groan:

Throughout scripture we see groans preceding a great deliverance—and this deep groan of the Spirit must erupt in our churches and in our cities now. The days of quiet, sedate church services built upon human order must come to an end—Sunday mornings must resound with a prophetic shock and a new sound of trembling people exploding in groans of the Spirit.

We need Azusa-level reports to shoot around the planet as we explode in supernatural cries!

In a skeptical front-page story titled “Weird Babel of Tongues”,[17] a Los Angeles Times reporter attempted to describe what would soon be known as the Azusa Street Revival. “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand”, the story began, “the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles”.[20] Another local paper reporter in September 1906 described the happenings with the following words:

…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, ‘Repent,' and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, ‘The Comforter Has Come.'

This is the most important and most effective step, by far, in promoting a wildfire atmosphere. Instead of nice, catchy worship and other typical church elements, introduce the raging glory and power of groans and tongues. Literally, when stepping into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, the atmosphere will radiate with supernatural power as everybody is engaging in aggressive, expressive and booming groans and tongues! 

When pastors lead the way by engaging everybody in 30-60 minutes (or more) of continual, intense intercession at this level, literally everything in the church will change. It will shift from a low-level, mildly spiritual atmosphere that is mostly dependent on coercing people to tithe more, serve more and attend more to one that has people lined up outside the doors for hours waiting to get in.

VISIONARY LEADERSHIP

I'm not talking about worldly vision or an entrepreneur spirit. I mean pastors and leaders must be living their lives saturated in prayer and the Word to such a degree that God exploded supernatural vision into their spirits. Dreams, visions and encounters will rock and shock them to such a degree that little else matters than running toward the fulfillment of what God has revealed to them. 

Happy sing-a-longs, tepid prayer times, powerless sermons and a nice little family environment will give way to a vibrant, anointed, fearful and weighty atmosphere. Joshuas, Gideons and other bold, relentless biblically-modeled men and women of God will lead the charge into the great unknown. They know that only a remnant can get them where they need to go. Most will need to be released into the deserts of their own makings as they identify the few who have the courage to advance into the land of promise.

A PROPHETIC CULTURE

If authentic prophecy isn't predominant in each and every gathering, the advance toward a glorious revival will be stunted. 

While low-level, carnal, fake and invented “prophecy” must be rejected wholesale, true prophetic revelation must be embraced. Decrees and declarations based on the timely insight that God has revealed to that local body will shock the atmosphere with authority. The people, the remnant soldiers, should be trained and empowered to prophesy, and the entire body must be ready to shift and redirect as the winds of the Spirit move them. 

HOLINESS

Fire and brimstone preaching will have to make an appearance in such a revival-focused environment. Unapologetic calls to radical consecration are absolutely mandatory. Holiness and repentance must be a common thread through everything in the ministry. While an atmosphere of grace is key, allowing people to authentically reveal their struggles in a loving atmosphere, the severity of the fear of the Lord must also be felt.

THE WORD OF GOD

The Word of God must be read and fully believed, proclaimed and boldly decreed if revival is to be had. The mission must be based on extreme adherence to the challenging truths of Scripture. Those who know God will be strong and do great exploits, and the revelation of the Word along with an atmosphere of fervent prayer will result in a people who know their God.

Simply, Sunday School style Bible teaching won't cut it. We need faith-filled, vision-driven and fearless proclamations of Scripture that rips apart strongholds and shatters the teeth of the enemy. We need biblical revelation that strikes us, marks us and wrecks us. We need the Word of God to pierce our hearts, captivate our minds and overwhelm our intellect.

THE SURRENDER OF CHURCH GROWTH

The pursuit of revival is a regional and national pursuit, not a local one. What I mean is, the end goal is not local church growth. It's beyond time to forever surrender the annual goals of more people, more small groups, more offerings, new buildings and any focus on local. 

If God starts moving powerfully in another local church in the city, pastor, you must shut your thing down for a season and support what God is doing on the other side of town. The goal is regional outpouring. The vision is much greater than four walls.

The moment the goal is the development of a single local church is the moment that church has been disqualified from the pursuit of regional revival.

INTERCESSION

I covered this mostly in the section about tongues and groans, but felt it necessary to doubly impress upon you the need for constant, fervent and powerful intercession. This is not a separate, side ministry that takes place before a service or on an off night. It's not to be relegated to a side room or to be led by anybody other than the senior leader. It's the most important, most powerful and most neglected ministry of the church.

The church isn't a house of preaching, a house of relationships, a house of evangelism or a house of anything other than a house of prayer. That's it.

Sunday services should be mostly vibrant prayer meetings. The cookie-cutter model we've become so used to must go. The worship, announcements, preaching, altar time paradigm must cease. The new wine skin is bathed in intercession, and every member of the remnant church must deliberately give themselves to it night and day.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We are far from revival. I hear prophets and preachers talking about how near we are, and I just have to shake my head and wonder what exactly they are discerning. In terms of timing, can revival break out sooner than later? Sure. But in terms of distance, in terms of where we are now and were we must be as a church to see revival hit, we are far.

The church must experience a reformation that will shock it to its core. It's this shock and awe of God's supernatural invasion that will never let us do church as usual again, Spirit-filled or otherwise. Every goal will change. Board and staff meetings will never be the same. Strategies and how money is spent will morph over night. When God visits, nothing else matters. The result will be a church on fire that prays night and day with ferocity. 

Morality police arise: Porn returns to OnlyFans

It's time for the morality police to return to our modern world.

After reversing their decision to ban pornography on their platform, the OnlyFans Twitter account celebrated with a Tweet: “Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard.”

Founded in 2016, the site claims to have more than 130 million registered users and over 2 million creators. The voices of 130 million people crying out will most certainly be heard, and it's a further indication of how wicked, lost and debased our society has become.

If it were only the lost who were shouting their demands for erotic media, that would be one thing. Tragically the porn pandemic has long since infiltrated the church, members and clergy alike.

Countless pastor's voices have been heard. Innumerable Christian's voices have been heard. The cry for porn is loud, clear and persistent. 

We are in the middle of a spiritual crisis that shrouds our culture with the stench of death. Instead of God's people embracing a deeply consecrated life of holiness, intercession and radical surrender, too many have plunged deep into the pit of wickedness. The vice-grip of pure evil is suffocating the very life out of the children of God.

WHERE ARE THE MORALITY POLICE?

My wife was sharing with me about a mystery series she watches that features someone in the role of morality police. Her duties included enforcing dress codes, reporting illegal alcohol consumption (the setting is during prohibition) and calling out behaviors that violated a common code of ethics.

I've lived most of my adult life being inundated with teachings, theologies and church cultures that decry any hint of so-called legalism. Messages of holiness, consecration, taking up our cross and anything that smells of works has been called out as legalistic. While inviting all sorts of religious accusation, I've said many times over the decades that I'd rather be a holiness preacher contending for revival than a spiritualized freedom-fighter who celebrates free-will and minimizes the power of sin.

As a result of these false-grace messages, we are watching the world plummet into hell at warp speed. 

We need the morality police, preachers of righteousness who have a backbone of steel and fire in their eyes as they call out debauchery.

Today's moral collapse shouldn't be shocking, but in a way it still is. How can sites that promote pornography be allowed to exist? I'm not talking about legalities. I'm not talking about freedom of speech or expression. I'm talking about the lack of horror among the people that such immorality can find a place to call home. 

JUDGMENT BEGINS AT THE HOUSE OF GOD

On the other hand, it shouldn't surprise us when the lost choose to live as the lost. They do lost type things. Sexual pleasure is one of the most powerful forces known to man and if one doesn't subscribe to a religious ideology or another ethical code that forbids certain expressions of it, then what reason would they have to resist? Outside of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, abstaining from many biblical sins makes no sense. Sex, drunkenness, witchcraft, foul language and other ungodly current day realities are enjoyed without guilt or restriction.

Yet, within the construct of the church, the moral code absolutely does exist. 

I've known pastors who thought it was nothing to share from the pulpit about R rated movies and immoral television shows. I've walked in on pastors in their homes watching movies containing foul language and nudity. 

Years ago, rock music was obviously rejected by the church as worldly.

Wikipedia reports, “Most traditional and fundamentalist Christians did not view rock music favorably when it became popular with young people from the 1950s.”

The Pentecostal youth pastor and author of the Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson, called it “Satan’s Pentecost” and portrayed rock ‘n’ roll concerts as a kind of inverted Pentecostal worship, with demonic speaking in tongues.

Today? Pastors and Christians fill their lives with it along with other immoral genres. In fact, as a youth pastor in the 1990's I regularly preached against the emergence of “Christian rock” music while promoting a lifestyle of soaking in deeply anointed worship music. 

David Wilkerson said, “Oh how God's people need discernment. Great deceptions abound every where, not only regarding the rock and punk music of the young, but also in regard to new forms of worship and praise being promoted. Some of it is born of the Holy Spirit, but much is born of the flesh – and only those who walk in the light know the difference.”

Yes, we need holiness preachers to arise again. The world will do what the world does. It will grow much darker as hell grows larger. This is a fact that causes my stomach to turn and my heart to grieve. More than any time in history we need a church on fire, a consecrated bride who lives a separated, surrendered, repentant and passionate existence. We must have a movement of remnant Christians who tremble in the fear of the Lord, who abhor wickedness and who will call out lukewarm, apathetic religiosity. 

It's easy to presume judgment is coming to our dark planet. What we need to do is capture God's heart for the church, for his bride, for you and me. Judgment starts here. The terror of the Lord is a very real thing and it must consume us just as much as his intense love does. 

FREEDOM CAN BE YOURS

If you are bound by pornography, you need to grasp both God's love and his terror. He is zealously drawing you to himself and there is dramatic, supernatural and miraculous freedom to be found. The grip of the enemy is nowhere near strong enough to keep you. One moment in the immeasurable presence of the Holy Spirit will set you free forever. You simply must repent, reject unrighteousness, flee lust and sexual temptation and fall desperately in love with Jesus. Eliminate most movies, television and other media. Shut off the music. Consecrate yourself and flood your life with worship, intercession and the Word of God. When you do, revival will ignite in your heart.

I pray God's fear and his love capture every one of us. The times are going to become much more difficult. Temptations will feel nearly impossible to resist. The darkness will only grow darker. We need a company of firebrands who reject the allure of the enemy and who go deep into the heart and plan of God for their lives. We need revival.

Photo credit: “Hands Typing on Laptop Keyboard” by Image Catalog is marked with CC0 1.0

Originally published by The Stream.

Remnant-sensitive churches arise!

John Burton

A massive falling away from the faith will be a mark of churches devoid of supernatural power.

It's time for a dramatic shift from seeker-sensitive churches to remnant-sensitive churches in our nation. There is an army of supernaturally-minded followers of Jesus looking for their tribe, and there are few churches that pass the test.

All that is natual or done in human power isn't bad by default. Mankind whether Christian or not can do much good simply by, well, doing good. We can feed the hungry, serve sacrificially, give extravagantly, smile, hug, encourage, befriend and do much good for mankind.

In the church realm we can pray for the sick, visit shut-ins, teach the Bible, pass out Gospel tracts, attend small groups and much more that doesn't necessarily require the power of God to accomplish. Of course, when we add God's power to any of the above, the impact is dramatically different. 

NATURALLY DRIVEN CHURCHES ABOUND

When church-shopping, if people were honest, they would commonly admit they are looking for a variety of things. Topping the lists of many in search of a new church home are good children's and youth ministries, dynamic and skillful worship, excellent teaching, the ability to develop new relationships and a welcoming environment.

In fact, church growth strategies tend to be natural versus supernatural as they focus on how we can meet the demands of the customers (current and potential church members). An article on the Smart Church Management website titled 7 Keys to Church Growth zeroes in on what is humanly achievable. Again, all that is humanly possible isn't unbiblical or inappropriate. Natural methods, secular strategies and ideals found in the business world can, at times, be applied in the spiritual world.

Some of the keys to church growth mentioned in the article include creating an inviting atmosphere, creating a welcoming experience, care for church members and providing opportunities to serve. There's not a thing wrong with any of this, except that what matters most wasn't mentioned. Nurturing the supernatural manifestation of the presence of God didn't make the list.

Naturally driven churches abound from coast to coast in this nation. You'll hear a lot about great coffee, vibrant community and programs for the entire family. In fact, many err on the side of caution by downplaying the supernatural. The risk of alienating visitors or conservative members is too high to allow it. Tragically, the risk of alienating God isn't often considered.

CRISIS WILL OVERWHELM THE NATURALLY MINDED

You'll know a supernatural church when crisis hits. Supernaturally driven Believers will respond radically differently to crisis than those who aren't living, walking, praying and governing in the spirit. Without developing a history in God that's marked by fervent intercession, intense devotion, great faith and openness to the moving of the Holy Spirit, people will default to what makes sense in the natural realm. 

Without a supernatural mindset, it will be impossible to respond to crisis as God intends. Natural strategies won't work. Panic will set in. Fear will dominate. 

This will be followed up by lost faith and angry fists raised to heaven. A failure to live in the otherworldly, supernatural place of signs, wonders and miracles will result in a devastating lack of spiritual tools in people's toolbelts when they are most needed.

The church's failure to equip people in the Holy Spirit is more eternally costly than we can imagine. Satan is raging and there is no natural response that will slow him down. A powerless church births powerless Christians who are primed to be easily devoured by the hounds of hell.

THE DEMISE OF THE SEEKER-SENSITIVE CHURCH

If we put on our marketing hats, it makes sense to target the largest segment of society. Coke, Nike, Disney and other companies want their products or services enjoyed by as many people as possible. Pastors want people in the seats. The quickest way to make that happen, one would presume, is to target the largest segment of those who are most prone to visit. Seekers are everywhere and some will show up on Sunday morning if the services are welcoming, comfortable and definitely not weird. Eliminate the supernatural and they may come.

This strategy must end. The end-time church is a church on fire, not a comfortable living room where we can put up our feet, eat some snacks and watch the show. The Holy Spirit isn't drawing seekers into a tepid environment. He's not looking to ease people into a new life in Christ. God is calling all to the cross, to full surrender and right into the furnace of his presence. 

When seekers are introduced to God in a way that's naturally understandable, the dive into the often bizarre, intense, all-consuming activity of the Holy Spirit is nonsensical to them. Such an experience becomes unnecessary if they, after all, have alread “said yes” to Jesus in a costless, comfortable environment. 

Hearing God's voice, dreams, visions, encounters, being baptized in the Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare, casting out demons, moving in the gifts of the Spirit and so much more becomes unnecessary to those who “got saved” in a comfortable, non-threatening, naturally-driven church.

CHURCH ON FIRE ARISE!

The end-time church is a remnant church. It's time we stop appealing to the general population to build kingdoms of man and start calling in those who are ready to make a total surrender and advance the Kingdom of God. The remnant firebrands are desperately looking for their home base. They want to find their fellow soldiers who are ready to move ahead with precision against the wickedness in our nation.

They aren't looking for churches with trendy youth ministries, the best coffee shops or even great worship or teaching. The remnant is looking for the fire of the Holy Spirit. They want to know if intercession drives the ministry. A specific, world-changing, divine vision is crucial. The pursuit of the wonders of God is paramount. An extremely prophetic atmosphere is non-negotiable. Great faith and extreme devotion to the Word of God are critical. These end-time warriors refuse to play games and they won't stand for lesser things getting in the way of the greater mission. Coffee, friendships and programs become laughable as foundations to build on. 

The time is now for a massive reset to come to the church. We have Ichabod churches dotting our nation and many others that do have a heartbeat yet refuse to dive into the depths of the fire. We need an Acts 2 church that is volcanic, supernatural and radiating in immeasurable power.

How does this happen? Become remnant-sensitive. Gather in those who are ready to lay it all down and contend with tears for God to move. Pastors must shift dramatically and refuse, ever again, to make decisions based on how the people will respond. The idolatry of filled pews must be repented of. The fear of offending the tithers must cease. The focus on keeping everybody happy can't continue.

We need the supernatural church to arise in these dire end-times. Without a prophetic mantle and the ability to advance in extreme Holy Spirit power, we have no hope. However, if we start training people in the fire and advance as a burning end-time army, kingdoms of darkness will shatter. And finally, we won't have to function as time-share salespeople, giving gifts and promising all sorts of benefits to those mildly interested in God if they sign on the dotted line. The seekers will witness undeniable supernatural power and the Holy Spirit will overwhelm them as they hit their knees and cry, “Holy!”

Originally published by Charisma Media

 

Ten observations of a former ministry leader

Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Six years away from full-time ministry has provided me time for evaluation.

After 25 years of planting and leading churches, developing regional prayer initiatives, traveling to speak at churches and conferences and giving leadership to internships and other projects, I morphed overnight into a business owner in Branson, Missouri.
Ministry was my world, my grid, until suddenly it wasn't.
There's a stigma surrounding ministry when it comes to a change of seasons. Many would regard moving from pastoring or other ministry assignments to the marketplace as unfortunate. Suspicions of failure threaten to follow them as they begin their new venture. Outside of moral failure or other issues that would demand a ministry be benched, a shift from ministry to business can certainly be viewed as a promotion. When God smiles on you and moves you into a new season, it is a promotion indeed. I don't argue this for my own sake (though I will admit the enemy likes to tell me I failed), but rather for many who are sensing their full-time, vocational ministry assignment to be over.
While I still write each week for two publications on revival, prayer, culture, politics and current events, the bulk of my time is devoted to my new life outside of vocational ministry. My wife and I are having the time of our lives building an escape room business while also growing a YouTube travel channel.
When we moved from Detroit to Branson, Missouri, we knew the ministry grind we were so familiar with was over and an exciting new life awaited us.
After six years away from the pulpit, here are ten takeaways I've gleaned during the transition from ministry to the business world. While these are personal points, many if not all will ring true especially to those experiencing the same journey as me.

ONE: The vision

I miss running with a very personal and God-infused vision for city transformation. There is something about giving leadership to a ministry that's fueled by sharp vision with a call to see the darkness pushed back in a city. It was never about doing church, growing a church, attracting visitors or making sure the tithes and offerings kept coming in. I never cared about any of that. I was consumed with a divine call and I came alive when I ran toward that mark.
Night after night I'd be with other firebrands in intense prayer encounters and strategy sessions. We'd prayer walk the city, prophesy over it and release decrees and declarations. That just can't be duplicated in a typical church environment.

TWO: Preaching

I'm a preacher. I miss releasing the fire several times a week and imparting what God was downloading to me. It was uniquely prophetic and often spontaneous. The goal was never to simply impart Bible knowledge as much as it was to rally the troops, to reveal current God's plans, to confront the spirit of the age and to advance together from the place of encounter.
For me, preaching and teaching isn't as much a Bible study as it is a biblical revelation of what God was speaking to us in that moment. I miss the times when God was burn assignments and calls into my spirit that I then communicated to the church. The rallying cry resulted in a timely, unified advance in the next phase in the mission.

THREE. The team

I miss my incredible, consecrated, passionate and locked-in teams of revival-minded, Holy-Spirit driven zealots. One reason I was never that interested in drawing the biggest crowds in the city is I was on the hunt for remnant people who God was specifically assigning to our mission. These burning ones that showed up several times a week to contend for revival marked my life for eternity!
For me, typical friendships and relationships were never compelling (though I know many others are wired differently, and that's good). I was invigorated by people who burned with the same fire that I did, people who were ready to go deep and blaze with intensity night and day. Yes, I really miss those firebrands!

FOUR. The miraculous

I miss the encounters with God, the unusual and otherworldly signs and wonders and the miracles that manifest in environments like that. Of course, God does move in a variety of ways in a variety of environments, but for me nothing came close to comparing with what happened when remnant revivalists cried out and groaned in the Spirit.
The signs, wonders and miracles over the decades have been absolutely stunning. My life has been transformed by the unusual, otherworldly workings of God and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. When a group contends night after night, week after week, year after year together in this fashion, you get God's attention and he definitely gets yours.

FIVE. False expectations

As someone who functions in the prophetic and apostolic, I definitely don't miss the expectations people would place on me as if I was a pastor.
This was one of my greatest challenges when giving leadership to churches. In the Western culture churches are predominantly led by people in the office of Pastor. The expectations are hardwired in most and when the leader of the church doesn't come through, it's easy for people to get disappointed or offended.
I believe we need an emergence of churches that are Apostle led. The entire atmosphere will be radically different from what we see today. Family-style churches will begin to give way to apostolic and prophetic revival centers. The primary purpose for going to church will shift from hanging with friends and simply learning the Bible to getting equipped in the Word and taking cities.

SIX. Failure to address culture

Stepping outside of the bubble of my own ministry, I've noticed that few pastors and leaders are regularly dealing with culture, politics and the issues of the day. In the real world, everybody is addressing and influencing the culture — except for church leaders it seems. The tragic repercussions in our society are obvious.
A spirit of diplomacy will kill the sharp, prophetic mandate on a church. The desire to keep people happy in the pews instead of daring to actually take an unpopular stand on cultural issues is costing churches their anointing. This is one of the risks of family-style churches that focus mostly on developing relationships. Of course, godly relationships are extremely valuable. Relationships are the only thing we'll take to heaven with us, as the saying goes.
However, if we aren't willing to take a stand out of fear of disrupting the fragile family chemistry, in my opinion we've disqualified ourselves from ministry. Apostolic and prophetic churches don't have this problem as the very reason they are in existence is to confront the spirit of the age and advance toward an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

SEVEN. A godless world

I've always know this to be true, as the topic has driven many of my sermons over the years. However, again, stepping out of my church bubble has given me a much clearer view. The world is nearly godless. Most give absolutely no thought to the concept of God in their daily lives. It's tragic how wicked, lost and confused most people are today. It absolutely breaks my heart.
When I was in ministry a primary driver was the pursuit of authentic revival. I believe more than anything a legitimate Acts chapter two outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the best and fastest way for the masses to surrender all to Jesus. Give me another Azusa outpouring. Give me a Welsh revival. Let's see another Brownsville move of God. When the lost encounter supernatural, holy power, they are undone — and free.

EIGHT. Strange Christians

I'm probably the last person you'd imagine would be highlighting Christians acting strangely. I've witnessed God manifesting in some absolutely bizarre and supernatural ways. From oil manifesting on someone's hands during worship to a mist of God's glory to demonic encounters, I've seen a lot. I've experienced a lot myself. When God moves, the human body will very often react in some strange ways to say the least.
However, I've noticed a segment of Christians are unnecessarily strange and unbalanced. As I confirmed, I believe in authentic, supernatural and extremely bizarre encounters with God. But, what I'm seeing is what so many in the world are seeing: goofiness with no power of God evident. This hinders the advance of the Gospel.
The conspiracy theorists are out in force and slapping God's name on their analysis of current events. Others are emotionally driven to the exclusion of self-control. Many in the prophetic stream are living in an ultra-mystical state and presume any cloud that looks like an angle is Michael ready to descend on the earth. It's weird.
The challenge is leading a church that is open to the moving of the Holy Spirit and inviting of manifestations no matter how bizarre — if it's truly God. Such churches invite the unbalanced, and if they aren't open to guidance from leadership they can cause quite a schism in the body.

NINE. Marketplace ministry

More than any time when I was in vocational ministry I've noticed God working powerfully through businesspeople and entrepreneurs. In fact, I've believed for a long time that many current full-time ministers would do good to shift into the marketplace.
As I stated above, for many a change of scenery would be a promotion out of ministry and into the workforce. (Of course, God also promotes into and within the ministry.) When we have Spirit-filled, God loving men and women serving and leading in the world system profound impact can come. It's a powerful testimony when God's people exhibit integrity, godly character and a tangible anointing as they work alongside the lost.

TEN. An exciting future

I don't know what the future holds, whether it's stepping back into ministry or selling our house to buy an RV as we focus on taking our travel videos to the next level! Anything and everything is on the table. I love the adventure!
When locked into a pastorate or a specific ministry without the option to move into a wholly different season, whether it's in or out of full-time ministry, frustration can set in. There are many people who just need the permission to shift. Go as God leads. He promises to order our steps, and what I've discovered, those steps can be quite unusual and unexpected indeed!

Celebrity Christianity should cause great rejoicing — and caution.

Revival in Hollywood would shock the planet with the love and power of Jesus.

I come alive imagining a spirit of legitimate revival blowing and burning through the sound stages and mansions of Southern California.

Consider an atmosphere of intense intercession with some of the media elite on their knees, weeping, crying out and contending for a move of God to overtake the nations of the earth. Can you see it? Tom Cruise leading the room in repentance, Miley Cyrus declaring freedom to the oppressed, Jimmy Fallon casting out demons, Ellen DeGeneres healing the sick and Tom Hanks preaching the Word. I can see it.

The thought of daily prayer meetings that draw the most prominent talent from television and the big screen is invigorating. It's past time for the Jennifer Aniston's and Johnny Depp's of the world to fall madly in love with Jesus and to lead the charge for a Holy Spirit outpouring in Hollywood.

Possibly more powerful and far reaching than a move of God in any other segment, revival in Hollywood would dramatically shift the entertainment industry into something that impacts the world for Jesus.

TWO TROUBLING CONCERNS

As I dream of a Jesus revolution in Hollywood there are two troubling concerns that haunt me.

First, the lack of authentic revival there to date grieves my spirit. While I'm certain there are some who have been dramatically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the numbers are few. I'm struggling to think of a single well known celebrity who has had a legitimate Damascus Road experience. Where are the tear-jerking stories of radical surrender to Jesus in Hollywood? Why are there no (or so few) testimonies of life-altering encounters with God, undeniable healings, deliverances and overwhelming freedom? It should become common for people like Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne Johnson, Will Smith, Harrison Ford and others to wholeheartedly repent and start following Jesus with exuberant passion. Yet, such reports are rare.

Second, and possibly more concerning, is the potential redefining of Christianity by those who do appear to embrace God.

For quite some time I've been alerted in my spirit to the risk of “celebrity Christianity.” God has often been thanked behind an Oscar Awards podium, yet it's obvious most who shout his name are in no way devoted to Jesus. This casual shout-out to God has now morphed for many into an intentional redefinition of biblical truth. While it's certainly exciting to see some of the world's most famous people mention God in a positive light, we have to reel in our fervor and honestly consider whether it's truly Jesus who is being promoted.

“So, you now telling me that I'm allowed to redesign my relationship with God as an adult, and make it how it feels most accepting to me, makes me feel so less turned off by spirituality.” This is the message Miley Cyrus seemed to get from Justin Bieber's wife, Hailey in an Instagram video interview.

Hailey Bieber recently talked about the expectations she and Justin have as professing Christians. “As a model, Bieber says she’s often expected to “show skin” but then hears that’s “not a good representation” of her Christian faith. When she receives flak for posting certain photos of herself online, Bieber says she wonders, “Am I doing something wrong? Am I setting a bad example [because] people in the church will see this? And the reality is—no.”

We must understand that we are all in process and Hailey and Miley are very young and still searching. We need to celebrate the search. They are remarkable human beings and deeply loved by God. However, we can't remain silent when the signals being sent in the midst of that search may lead people astray.

It is troubling, whether Hailey meant to communicate this or not, that Miley Cyrus felt vindicated and confirmed in her own version of spirituality.

“I was raised going to church as a believer, and that was a really important part of my life,” Miley shared. “And I kind of fell off that path a little bit because I think I had a hard time finding a relationship with God that worked for me as an adult.”

Miley's journey seems to have led her outside of biblical boundaries and to feel confirmed in her decisions is troubling.

New Age, psuedo-Christian spirituality has been around Hollywood for a long time, yet now it's being affirmed as authentic, biblical Christianity, which it is not.

In the Instagram video Hailey promotes community whether it's at church, on a sports team on in a book club where there's no judgement and where you find acceptance and love. She states, “For me that's church and that's God and that's faith.”

Miley, who was raised in church, said, “I'm so happy I just learned something. What I just took away from you is I'm allowed to decide what my relationship is with spirituality as an adult that doesn't have to be aligned the way it was when I was brought up.”

Hailey said, “It's your journey between you and God. I've always had a hard time too with church making people feel excluded and not accepted and like they can't be a part of it because of what they believe in or who they love or who they don't love.”

ONE EXCITING REASON TO REJOICE

In the interview, which was supposed to be about makeup (and eventually did switch over to that topic), Miley said something that caused my spirit to rejoice.

“I'm so happy we are talking about God and not about makeup! This is like what I need right now. I need to hear this. I can just talk with God directly.”

The Holy Spirit is drawing Miley and so many in Hollywood and the entertainment industry right now. I'm wildly awakened to the wooing of the Spirit of God in what many would call the most unredeemable cultures. Whether it's Hollywood, Nashville, Washington D.C., our nation's universities or other atheistic environments, the power of God will burn through the arguments, confusion and resistance.

We must contend for the souls of the searching and stand strong, in love, with humility against mixed messages that lead people away from the truth.

Miley Cyrus is on God's heart and while she has been jaded by church hurt of the past, her future is prime for surrender to the One who loves her with such overpowering zeal. Pray for Miley. Pray for Hailey and Justin. Pray that God's character is fully revealed, that love and holiness are pursued and that they all embrace him for who he is, not who they want him to be. This message is for you and me as well.

Photo credit: “Miley Cyrus [HM: BackStage]” by AlexKormisPS (ALM) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Demonized States of America

It's time we grasp how deeply wickedness has infiltrated our nation.

I'm a revivalist, and I'm a realist. Like many, I'm contending for an overwhelming outpouring of God's spirit in our nation. Unlike many, I don't believe it's near. The combination of the lack of fiery passion of Believers and the level of debauchery both in the church and in the world is all I need to arrive at that conclusion.

The truth is our nation is both blind and numb to a truth that most would reject regardless of their desensitized condition. As offensive as it sounds we must admit that demonization has overwhelmed the United States of America. Those that live in their sanctified, puritanical, Christian bubble might scoff at the suggestion that the prince and the power of the air is the predominate force in the land.

I'm not talking about your stereotypical hissing and vomiting at the altars of some third-world style deliverance church, though that is certainly a manifestation of what I'm referring to. The surrender to, no, the eager embrace of the evil one and his minions over the last few decades has set up this country for Sodom and Gomorrah level judgment.

LET'S START WITH THE CHURCH

Barna Group and Covenant Eyes reveal some striking results from a research project:

68% of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn on a regular basis. Of young Christian adults 18-24 years old, 76% actively search for porn.

Only 13% of self identified Christian women say they never watch porn – 87% of Christian women have watched porn.

57% of pastors say porn addiction is the most damaging issue in their congregation.

Another study, this time by Pew Research, reveals most Christians say sex between unmarried consenting adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable, and about half say casual sex is sometimes or always OK.

In fact, 57% of Christians believe sex in a committed relationship either is or sometimes is acceptable. Half believe casual sex either is or may be okay.

Today it seems Christians who refuse to allow themselves to be entertained by media with foul language, nudity, sexual situations or coarse joking are the outcasts of the church. The consecrated remnant is truly the minority. In fact, they have become quite rare. Instead of contending for a move of the Holy Spirit (note his title, “Holy”) many of today's professing Christians are barely a shade lighter than a world gleefully stained by sin

Another report, this one eighteen years old, reveals born again Christians believe the following to be “morally acceptable” behavior:

  • Having an abortion (33%)
  • Gambling (45%)
  • Enjoying sexual thoughts or fantasies (45%)
  • Using profanity (29%)

We can only presume the condition of the church has degraded since this study came out in 2003. And many believe revival to be near? Forget the seven deadly sins, the church has become infested by innumerable vices that would make Legion proud.

IS AMERICA A GODLESS NATION?

Almost. Again, if we don't peek our head out from the safety of our sanitized religious seclusion, we'll never understand how demonized our nation has become. 

The darkness has reached a level that's hard to fathom. It's so deeply sad and grieving. Americans are intoxicated on pleasure, power and greed. 

I believe America is at a great disadvantage to nations like Haiti, for example, due to our cultural denial of anything supernatural. We are a common sense, science-minded people who walk by sight and not by faith. The idea that people could somehow be controlled, manipulated and modified by an invisible, evil spirit is laughable to most. In Haiti nobody is laughing. 

A Haitian pastor shared with me that evil spirits visit women, even Christian women, in his nation on a very specific schedule to have sexual encounters with them. The entities require the husband to sleep in a separate room on certain nights of the week so they could be alone with his wife. Pure terror results in obedience to the spirit's commands.

This sounds like nothing more than a Hollywood horror script to most Americans. Our nation's denial of the supernatural in favor of intellect and logic has allowed a Trojan horse into our culture, filled with all sorts of wickedness.

We are witnessing demonization in every sphere whether it's politics, movies and media, music just to name a few. I believe a strong delusion has descended on America. 

Watch the liberal left, listen to the Hollywood elite. Nonsensical madness is being spewed from their lips. I remember when sex, drugs and rock and roll were identified not by the church but by a more moral American culture than we have now as wicked. Today? You don't have to look to secular society. Pastors and preachers are filling their ears with the devil's music, watching impure movies and television, enjoying sexual lust and living worldly lives all while preaching God's Holy Word on Sundays. And we believe revival is just about here? Now that's madness. 

WE NEED REVIVAL

Revival is not almost here. Shockingly, some preachers actually report it's already upon us. If this is revival, I don't want it. Take me home, Jesus.

The only hope for our nation rests with the church. If we as God's people don't rend our hearts and repent with tears and groans, it's all over. If we do repent, however, if we do cry out to God for mercy, if we do renounce every evil deed, thought and motive in our lives, maybe, just maybe, God will hit our nation with his holy fire.

We must embrace supernatural reality. The enemy is real and he's ferocious. Satan is raging and is in control of many. The Holy Spirit is an invisible wind and fire. We need him to manifest in power without delay. 

Our nation is in very real trouble. Revival is our only hope. Repentance is our first step. We need to act fast. Hell is expanding and filling with millions of people God loves so tremendously. If we do pray and turn from our evil ways and seek God's face we can slow the flow to hell and see the immeasurable evil overtaking our nation take a hit.

Will the darkness ever be fully eradicated? No. In fact, it will grow darker. This is why we must live in such a way that the light of Jesus burns through us. When the power of God is made manifest, some will turn, and those are very precious souls indeed.

Photo credit: “The sun is shining brightly in the morning sky, through our American Flag.” by Beverly & Pack is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Where can I find an on-fire church…with no tongues?”

The scourge of yesterday's seeker sensitive movement has infected today's mainstream church.

A question was posted to a local Facebook group, and while I applaud anyone's desire to be involved in an on-fire church, the request revealed something troubling.

“Where can I find an on-fire church…with no tongues?”

That was the question.

The answer? Nowhere.

Such a church doesn't exist. The concept is quite impossible.

DEFINING AN ON-FIRE CHURCH

Of course, it's entirely possible to find a church that is vibrant and passionate about Jesus without the gift of tongues in operation. There are many such places where you can connect, grow, and enjoy godly relationships. You can serve, go on mission trips, study the Bible together and experience an emotionally satisfying community of faith. There are such churches represented by most every authentic Christian denomination (or non-denomination).

However, the individual wasn't asking about vibrant churches. They specifically sought out an on-fire church. I maintain my contention that it is impossible to find a church that's authentically on fire without tongues manifesting.

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 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)

There is an immeasurable difference between a vibrant community of faith and one that's marked by the fire of the Holy Spirit. When a church is birthed and bathed in fervent, supernatural prayer, and unlimited room is given for the Holy Spirit to blow and burn in their midst, the resulting fire is indescribable. Incomparable. Other-worldly.

To be on fire is not to be emotionally excited. To be consumed by biblical fire is a spiritual reality. The Spirit of God breathes in and through us and ignites a supernatural flame that defies description.

Simply, there is an anointing that rests on churches that embrace the gift of tongues. You'll notice in the passage of Scripture above that tongues of fire rested on everyone there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they all spoke in tongues.

I'm not going to dive into a teaching on the different types of tongues, but to briefly address those who are convinced that the Bible teaches that “all don't speak in tongues,” suffice it to say that there are multiple types of tongues. All can speak (or sing) in the personal gift of tongues. Not all, however, operate in other types of tongues such as “tongues and interpretation.” I'd encourage you to study out the differences.

An on-fire church is an Acts 2 church where all have the opportunity to be baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit. In fact, a true on-fire church will manifest groans of intercession and a supernatural release of God moving through all in attendance. 

“…but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26–27, ESV)

LARGE SCALE RESISTANCE TO THE GIFT OF TONGUES

I contacted two churches in my area that by all appearances were full of life and devoted to Jesus. I watched some of the worship online and people were legitimately engaging with lifted hands and at least a measure of visible passion. What I'm trying to communicate is that they appeared to be Spirit-filled churches.

I scoured their websites looking for a statement of faith or any evidence that they affirmed the gifts of the Spirit. I found nothing that remotely gave me confidence that I'd be stepping into an on-fire, Charismatic church should I choose to visit.

So, I emailed them. The first church copied and pasted their vague beliefs from the website I already studied. Here was my reply:

Thanks! Can you let me know your stance on the gifts of the Spirit? For example, during your services do people pray or sing in tongues? Are their words of knowledge? I appreciate it! Blessings to you all!

I never heard back from them.

The second church never replied at all.

Very interestingly, the first church was quick to reply to the Facebook post this article is about. “Where can I find an on-fire church…with no tongues?” A representative from the church claimed their church fit their requirements perfectly. Many other suggestions of other churches were offered as well. 

I find it even more disturbing that churches that presume to be Spirit-filled are all too often minimizing the gifts of the Spirit and even forbidding the gift of tongues during the service. The seeker sensitive paradigm has overtaken many churches as they seek to make everybody as comfortable as possible. 

The opportunity to engage in worship at many Spirit-filled churches has been reduced to fifteen or twenty minutes. I've visited churches that don't allow the people to go deep in the place of worship, to cry out, to repent, to groan in intercession or to encounter the Holy Spirit due to ridiculously short services. In fact, it's more common than ever to sing for fifteen minutes while being forced to listen to an often dry, tedious sermon that lacks any measure of anointing for nearly an hour. This is grieving! 

Pastors, you might notice that the rise of 24/7 prayer and worship is capturing people's hearts. However, you aren't going to find a 24/7 preaching and teaching movement. Both are important, but we must understand priorities. A foundation of fervent intercession and deep, supernatural worship is mandatory if the Word of God is going to have fertile soil to grow in.

From my book The Coming Church:

As we become supernaturally changed in a place of extreme intercession, worship will change significantly. It will be supernaturally driven. There is a new sound coming to worship, and it’s not simply a new style. There is a supernatural, otherworldly groan of intercessory worship that will explode out of the entire body as a new breed of trembling worship leaders lead the way into the shock and awe of the glory of God. We will no longer simply sit in a pew or stand with a raised hand while a familiar worship song is sung. The prophetic, groaning sounds of Holy Spirit-facilitated worship will make it normal to shake and fall to our faces as we cry, “Holy!” The natural, logical sing-a-longs will be no more. We will have a hard time standing as man’s karaoke gives way to God’s Shekinah and Kabod glory that takes up residence in his Church. Worship teams will practice less and pray in the Spirit with tears in their eyes more. Today, along with most other expressions of church life, worship is at least slightly and sometimes extremely marginalized for the sake of the less adventurous attendee. Since most people tend to be adverse to more supernatural forms of worship, and many would leave if the atmosphere became too uncomfortable, the majority has been winning. I’ve said it countless times, and have written before that I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. How is it that the naturally-minded majority has supplanted the supernatural remnant in the Church? How is it that burning, raging, intercessory worship that’s driven by the groans of the Spirit himself are not appreciated enough to risk losing people from our churches.

In the coming Church, it will be normal for people to hit their faces and tremble and cry holy as the fire of God’s presence rages! Do you see why we can’t formulate low level, seeker focused worship services that can be fully understood naturally?

Yes, people are drawn to churches that provide healthy community, excellent children's ministries, skilled musicians, engaging teaching and effective programs. However, this isn't the picture of an on-fire church. Not even close.

We need the raging, searing and fearful glory of God to burn through our services. The gifts of the Spirit must manifest and a supernatural tremble needs to strike us all. The shock and awe of the Holy Spirit should drive us all to our knees as we quake under his power.

What many are calling an on-fire church and what is authentically an on-fire church couldn't be more opposite. It's time for another Acts 2 outpouring to hit our nation.

From my article, “Seven sure-fire ways to end boring, predictable church services,” I'd like to suggest just what an on-fire church might include:

  1. Lengthy sessions of corporate praying and singing in tongues
  2. Embracing a vibrant prophetic culture
  3. Encouraging people to release prayers, decrees and declarations on the mic during service
  4. Inviting people to make biblical declarations
  5. Promoting prophetic art, flagging, dance and other expressions during the service
  6. Providing prayer for deliverance, healing and freedom
  7. Expecting manifestations of the Holy Spirit and refuse to shut them down

I'll leave you with one of my favorite descriptions of an on-fire church from over a hundred years ago:

An Azusa Street report:

…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.”

All who are in touch with God realize as soon as they enter the meetings that the Holy Ghost is the leader.

God Gets a Lap Dance on Saturday Night Live — Where are the Tears?

Political agendas instead of brokenness over souls have overtaken the American church.

“People are freaking out about your new video, where you ride down a stripper pole to Hell then twerk on the devil. Why are they upset?” (an actor portraying Brittany) Spears asks.

“Would you be able to give a lap dance to God, just to even things out?” Spears asks, before welcoming on a man with long white hair and tan robes. (An actor portraying) Lil Nas X leaps up and begins twerking in front of him for several seconds to the cheers of the audience.

This ET.com story has also been reported by most of the major news sources, and Christians are enraged. 

“God” gets a lap dance on the eve of the most holy day of the year, Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus destroyed the shackles of sin and death, just three days after the most loving act in the history of mankind. Brutal torture and slaughter were what the mob wanted for the man who famously said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

THE RAGE OF CHRISTIANS

This article isn't really about yet another heinous Saturday Night Live skit, this one about new shoes introduced by Lil Nas X that are literally anointed with a drop of human blood. It's not about the blasphemy of SNL or Lil Nas X. Christian friends, it's about you and me.

Hatred, division, rage, finger pointing and shaming have been the calling cards for many Christians over the past year. Whether it's blood boiling over due to a supposed stolen election or unbridled agitation resulting from masks, lockdowns, vaccines and, as some would argue, violations of Constitutional rights, followers of Jesus are up in arms.

Sure, watching defiling wickedness overtake our nation should provoke a strong response from us. The last thing we need is comatose, apathetic Christians who presume lukewarm passivity to be equal to love and kindness. I agree that we need men and women of God to speak boldly on political and cultural issues that are destroying our nation. To remain silent from behind the pulpit on the far-left agendas that are killing America is enough to disqualify anyone from ministry. We need holy, anointed freedom fighters to emerge. However, it's critical to understand just what freedom we are fighting for. Yes, there's a battle for our nation, but too many have lost focus by identifying as American patriots ahead of Kingdom ambassadors. This war is a spiritual war.

If pastors would have vigilantly prepared the church for the end times, Christians would not have panicked when a virus emerged, churches were shuttered, persecution arrived, the election didn't go the way they wanted and government tyranny deprived them of the life they were used to.

Instead we have naturally minded, reactionary people scrambling to fight the oppression, demonize their enemies and blame all who have threatened their elusive American dream. 

It's telling when American Christians presume God has promised freedom in our nation while forgetting freedom in Christ can be found in prisons, in Communist nations and anywhere other people remove natural freedoms from us.
The Bible guarantees perpetual national freedom literally nowhere from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, an argument for the opposite could more easily be made. 

You might presume this famous verse about God's promise to prosper a nation would support an argument for perpetual national freedom:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

However, you should back up one verse. National freedom won't come for seventy years:

““For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10, ESV)

And these verses drive home the point:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12–14, ESV)

I might argue that America is closer to being sent into exile than it is stepping into promise. 

Our response should be a hardcore turning to God, national repentance and a heart-wrenching cry for revival.

WHERE ARE THE TEARS?

@LilNasX
Mar 27
i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.

Lil Nas X sells out of 666 pairs of Satanic shoes, each containing a drop of human blood, and he reveals the reason for his provocative business venture: Christians. 

Where are the tears? Where is the compassion? Where is the cry, “Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does?”

Where is the brokenness over lost souls and devastated hearts that have been seduced by the enemy of humankind? Do we understand both saved and lost share the same enemy? Those who don't know Christ are not our enemies, and we aren't theirs. It would be hard to believe that in today's volatile American culture however. 

Instead, we are witnesses, many of us participants, in the war against any and all who oppose our “righteous” ideologies.

It's rare to find people crying out with passion for God to move on the hearts of people like Lil Nas X, President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg and others who are commonly in the sights of our holy sniper rifles. 

Instead, we do in fact snipe. We pull the trigger time and again with our “righteous” banter in an attempt to out them, shame them, accuse them and bring correction to them. How our gossip could ever reap positive results is beyond me.

INTERCESSORS ARISE

When I call intercessors to arise, I'm speaking to every blood-bought Christian reading this. Intercessors aren't a special brand of Believer. We are all called to pray with fiery zeal for those who are targeted for eternal destruction by Satan. 

The last year has revealed yet another angle of the ugly side of Christianity. It wrecks my heart that so few are exhibiting love for the lost. It's rare to find those who will put aside differences and truly fight the horde of hell for people God so deeply loves.

How can we expect those who have not had a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit to ever buy into our brand of morality and values? It makes no sense, yet Christians are still enraged when people don't see things the way we do.

An intellectual or emotional affirmation of the truth of the Bible will never transform a human heart. Yes, they may engage positively at a logical or emotional level. Yes, they may try to understand our point of view. Most, however, will partially or fully reject a biblical worldview unless a supernatural, unmistakable, life-altering, soul-shocking invasion of God's glory floods into their being. 

This is why I so passionately preach the need to live, walk, pray and move in the Spirit. We exist in an invisible world that only those with spiritual eyes can experience. We need the blind eyes of the lost and deceived opened to the abundant life of Jesus. Contend for this in determined prayer. Push back the enemy. Battle for souls. Love deeply. Weep for the wandering. Stand in the gap for those who mock God. Preach with anointing. Pursue a spirit of revival to overtake Hollywood, Washington, and, oh yeah, the church. Some good old fashioned repentance at an simple, holy altar, Christian, would be a good first step.

Photo Credit: “Satan (after Botticelli)” by Maxwell Hamilton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Origionally published by The Stream.

Nine Steps To Reforming Cancel Culture

Pepe Le Pew

The spirit behind cancel culture is truly wicked, but reform is still possible — and mandatory if America is to survive.

Bloodthirsty mobs are bent on destruction of anyone and anything that violates their worldview. Cancel culture is their weapon of choice, but mark my words, the weapons will only become more deadly unless we deal with the madness.

Read the following passage of Scripture carefully:

“…they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.” (Luke 23:21–25, ESV)

The mob was relentless. The authorities of the day gave them what they demanded. A murderer won the popularity contest. Jesus was slaughtered. Cancel culture.

The stark contrast, however, was that Jesus was truly innocent. This should send shivers down our spine. As the end continues to draw nearer those who which to exterminate (cancel) those they disagree with will do so regardless of evidence of guilt. If they don’t like the way we tie our shoes, it will be enough to validate an overt mission of destruction, at least in the mob’s eyes.

The spirit behind deadly riots and cancel culture is the same. Riots are physical, visible, violent and fueled by rage against any and all who oppose their advance through city streets. Cancel culture is invisible, psychological, sociological yet also fueled by white-hot rage against those they hate.

Reformation is needed before the fabric of our nation is shredded beyond repair.

NINE CRUCIAL CHANGES THAT MUST COME TO CANCEL CULTURE

LISTEN TO THE ACCUSED

In today’s instant society, it takes mere minutes for accusations against people of influence to send stocks diving, to cost jobs and to destroy families. A single tweet is all it takes to initiate the rapid process of national judgment.

They aren’t only unfairly judged as guilty until proven innocent. They are often guilty even when proven innocent. Hatred needs no proof of indiscretion in order to become weaponized. 

In most every case, the punishment cancel culture inflicts doesn't match the crime. That should be expected as cancel culture is energized by punishment, not fairness.

It’s imperative for it to become normal and accepted protocol to listen to the accused. Allow them to authentically defend their position, to admit a mistake or to seek clarity from their accusers. Before someone’s entire career, family and life are destroyed because of the aggressive intent of a few, is it not fair to entertain their explanation? Shouldn’t we allow for due process to play out? Is it not prudent to avoid jumping to conclusions? When hatred is fueling a movement, logic like this doesn’t move their hearts. This is why we must see good American people rise up and demand that the accused are provided a sufficient opportunity to share their hearts and explain their positions before the spirit of death is unleashed on them.

FORGIVENESS

Anger, rage, hatred and aggression towards targets of cancel culture are extremely overpowering emotions. A more powerful force is forgiveness.

In recent years we have witnessed tragic shifts in our culture that celebrate destruction of people. We are living in a punitive society that seeks to resolve our nation’s ills by eliminating all who err, and all who are deemed guilty by association. Don’t only prosecute the bad cops, defund the entire police force.

What if we forgave instead? To forgive doesn’t mean we affirm bad behavior. It means we love the person who has failed and we work hard to see that they are blessed in the midst of their crisis, no matter how egregious their crime may have been.

There are few moments more powerful, and rare, then weeping mamas in a courtroom who look the killer of her children in the eye and say, “I forgive you.” We have all sinned, and contrary to popular belief, all sin is absolutely vile. Whether it’s a white lie, lust, intoxication or murder, our wickedness is sure. This is why God’s offer of forgiveness via the cross and the resurrection is more remarkable than can ever be expressed. Outside of the forgiveness of Jesus, we are all deserving of Hell.

OFFER A PATH OF REDEMPTION

Today’s cancel culture is drunk on bulldozing a path of destruction. A spirit of redemption fights for the accused, not against the accused. The spirit of destruction wages war against the spirit of redemption, and this is the spiritual battle that is being played out every day.

“…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:9–10, ESV)

Understand, the thief, Satan, has all the evidence he needs to convince any and all of our guilt. In fact, he is absolutely right that we all deserve death and destruction. No one is righteous, and the penalty for that is delivery into the very hands of the devil. Thankfully there is an omnipotent God who loves us enough to offer a path of redemption. No matter what we have done, whether it’s stealing from a candy store, cheating on our taxes or cold-blooded murder, we can be redeemed. The power of love is incredible.

If someone truly fails and cancel culture brings it to light, providing a path of redemption is non-negotiable.

REJECT UNFOUNDED OPINIONS ABOUT MOTIVE

Refuse to entertain invented deductions about someone or something in our culture. We are watching Muppets, cartoons, classic movies and even Dr. Seuss cancelled right before our eyes. The latest victim? Pepe Le Pew:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote a piece headlined, “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias.” The column noted that some of the first cartoon characters Blow remembers seeing while young are Pepe Le Pew, who “normalized rape culture,” and Speedy Gonzales, whose friends “helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans.”

Simply because one person unilaterally determined the motive behind Pepe Le Pew’s mannerisms to be nefarious, this beloved character was removed from the upcoming Space Jam 2 movie with Lebron James.

It’s time that we refuse to accept outlandish accusations that have no merit.

QUESTION THE RULE BOOK

Fast forward to a few days ago when I watched a preview clip circulating the internet of the new Grand Theft Auto game. The video showed a sequence played in “first person view”, where you can actually invite a prostitute into your car, select the amount of money you wish to offer for her services and then watch the chosen acts performed. Not only that, once you have been sexually satisfied, you can kick her out of the car, stab her with a hatchet and run her over.”

This was from a 2014 article by Callen Price. Somebody please tell me how an innocent Looney Tune character like Pepe Le Pew is cancelled but Grand Theft Auto is not. This is nonsensical madness at its best. Paying for a prostitute’s services and then brutally murdering her after using her is acceptable? Who is writing the cancel culture rule book? Who is deciding what is moral and what is not?

We live in a culture that is drowning in pornography, drug use, violence, riots and all sorts of evil, yet we are cancelling people who suggest election fraud took place. Movies are filled with nudity, vulgar language and all sorts of immorality, yet we are destroying comedians who use the age old humor of stereotyping in their acts. Future generations are going to look back on America and think we are all nuts. It’s time to question the rule book. Greater sins are being ignored in favor of the chance to devour those who hold differing viewpoints.

STOP SURRENDERING TO THE MOB

We need some brave, level-headed people to stand up to the mob. When they are screaming, “Crucify! Crucify!” we should understand that something unholy is driving their madness.

All it takes is a mere suggestion that someone is out of line and companies are quick to destroy. Gina Carano was fired by Disney from her role in The Mandalorian simply because she tweeted something controversial. That’s all it took. Disney cowered to the mob.

Today people are walking on eggshells and living in fear of losing everything because of their beliefs or their failures of many years ago. When today’s cancel culture smells blood in the water, they rush to devour. We need to stop listening to the mob and start embracing the principles dealt with in this article. Love and forgiveness are culture-altering forces that we need today more than ever.

LOVE PEOPLE MORE THAN IDEOLOGIES

We are living in a throw-away generation where people easily dispose of others when they get in the way. Nothing exemplifies this more than the lengths people will go to ensure their freedom isn’t compromised by an unwanted baby. Abortion is evidence of ideologies and personal pursuits being dramatically more valuable than other people. Cancel culture is driven by this same spirit. Destroy people and protect ideologies. This hatred is destroying our nation. The only hope is a revelation of the love of Jesus. That’s it.

DEFEND THE RIGHT TO DIFFER

I’m shocked and dismayed that I have to write this in our once great and free nation. We should be celebrating the right to freely speak and for others to do the same. We may radically disagree with someone, and even believe their positions to be inhumane and immoral, yet their beliefs are their own. They speech is protected. I vehemently oppose the scourge of abortion, but I support the right for others to freely voice their support of the atrocity. We should be free to tweet and post opinions about anything from abortion to the election to vaccinations to pandemics to politics to religion to human sexuality to absolutely anything that isn’t illegal without cancel culture visiting our doorsteps.

REVIVAL

The bottom line is that our nation needs revival. Throughout this article I’m dealing with remedies that can only come when a culture is invaded with the love and power of Jesus. Pray for a move of God to overcome America. If it doesn’t happen, America itself will soon be cancelled.

Photo credit: “Pepe le Pew” by Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view is licensed under CC BY 2.

Originally published by The Stream.

2020: The Year Hate Made the World Go Round

Alyssa Milano

Hate has become the emotion of choice for a lot of people this year – including a whole bunch of Christians.

It’s more evident than ever just how toxic our culture is. 2020 has been quite the litmus test for love and civility.

I was recently interviewed about a recent article I wrote for The Stream titled Is Today’s Prophetic Movement Fake News? In the midst of a discussion on the unhealthy nature of much of today’s prophetic movement, I noted that I’m concerned that the church has wasted the opportunity that 2020 has provided us. The church’s often volatile reactions to the pressures of this season have been telling. People from all sides, the left, the right, the saved and the lost have been spewing poisonous personal revelations about everything from masks to freedom to Trump to equality. No, there’s nothing wrong with holding to a strong opinion on important matters. We’d be socially dead if we didn’t. However, the moment we villainize, attack, shame, cancel and blacklist those who disagree with us is the moment our true, dark hearts are revealed.

WE WEREN’T READY FOR 2020, AND WE AREN’T READY FOR 2021

I wrote an article for Charisma Magazine on January, 2nd 2020, just as the year was beginning and well before true concern for COVID-19 had arrived. Few knew about the coming pestilence, or at least the severity of it. I re-read the article and got chills. The call was clear: adopt humility, fervent prayer and a radical devotion to holiness in our pursuit of Jesus as the plagues and pestilence visit us:

2020 is here. Does God have good plans for His true, remnant church? Sure. However, His true church isn't primarily 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:

“When I shut up the heaven and there is no rain, or when I command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence on My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer of this place (2 Chron. 7:13-15, MEV).

I’d encourage you to read the entire article here.

On December 19th, 2019, I posted to Facebook:

So much of “prophecy” today is utterly useless, a distraction and often dangerous as it leads the immature and those who can't discern into false hope and down wrong paths.

I don't know how often I read prophecies on Facebook that cause me to say, “My time was just wasted. I didn't need to know that, even if it is true.”

While so much of prophecy today is an embarrassment, we must respond to the true call of the Spirit of God in this hour. Humility, love, prayer and holiness are most certainly part of that call.

In the face of the greatest global chaos in any of our lifetimes, the church should have been leading the way by calling for solemn assemblies, heart-wrenching prayer meetings and whatever else must happen to see a move of God overtake us. Instead, too many have become enraged, offended and puffed up at political leaders for restricting their freedoms and shutting down the churches. Why? So they can get back to their tired, predictable and mostly powerless 90-minute karaoke sing-a-long’s and story telling sessions?

“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” (Joel 1:14–15, ESV)

Before you become unglued (yet again), allow me to make a point. I too have opinions and strong beliefs. I firmly believe the Bible out ranks our governmental officials. When God in his Word commands us to meet together, we meet together. We should do it safely and with wisdom, but, in my opinion, I am convinced that we should be gathering together. However, if we rise up in pride against supposed tyranny just so we, in a spirit of independence, can have our way (in the guise of protecting our Constitutional rights) then we have failed. Rebellion can never be a Christian’s weapon against our oppressors. Today we have companies of arrogant, spiritualized rebels, defying authority in the name of God, as God himself resists them.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…” (1 Samuel 15:23, NKJV)

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, ESV)

FIGHTS, ACCUSATIONS, DIVISION AND HATRED

2020 is the year of losing friends, or at least a time when we learned just who our true friends were.

Social media has allowed for the unleashing of all types of self-important proclamations. Don’t dare have an opposing opinion about masks, our President, racial issues, our freedoms, the Constitution or pretty much anything else unless you want to be assaulted in the comments. It’s disgusting. No matter how righteous your pursuit is, handling it without love, honor and respect will nullify it.

I’m stunned most every day at how rude blood-bought Christians can be, especially on social media. Have you not encountered the love and the fear of the Lord? I mean, really had an overwhelming encounter where our omnipotent, holy and all-consuming God laid you out? If not, I propose you cease all of your attempts at heroism in our social fabric and hit your knees. Cry out to God with raw, guttural groans. Repent. Yearn for his presence and his glory to saturate you. Ask for your hip to be taken out and for a tongue of fire to ignite over you. Honestly, little else matters.

That brings me to those of you who have had such encounters, yet you still don’t know how to love. Stop everything. Learn to love. I’m not talking about the sappy, passive, new age, beta-male style “kindness” that is being promoted (mostly by unbelievers) all over the world. In fact, check out one of my most popular articles, The Great Love Deception, to understand just what I mean and what I don’t mean when I mention the world love. False love is truly on the rise and we must expose it and promote true, biblically defined love.

From the article:

Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…

We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.

As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.

I’ve run into several people, many who were once grounded Believers, who have bought into this supposed new revelation of love, and the stench is putrid. Supposedly Donald Trump is the candidate of arrogance, division and hatred while Joe Biden promotes humility, unity and love. People who wear masks are the poster children for true love while those who are anti-mask are selfish and hateful of others. Those who make such claims are delusional beyond belief. (On the contrary, those who refuse to wear masks when required and pout like children when pressed on the matter have no idea what love looks like either. Neither do those who cancel everyone in their lives who don’t support Donald Trump. I could go on and on.)

Love can (and often should) be very direct, unrelenting, unapologetic and aggressive. However, it must be done with grace, honor and respect. The alternative? Well, 2020 has taught us that anything from riots to destroying people’s lives when we disagree with them is on the table.

THE WORLD IS WATCHING

Yes, we as Believers are watching the world, and weeping. The vaccine has arrived, and now people are shaming whoever their political enemies are for being among the first to take it. It’s yet another opportunity for them to accuse their foes of killing grandma.

Both the left and the right, and Hollywood and Nashville, and every other sphere of influence in our nation have been guilty of hatred. The right assaults Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Alyssa Milano and many others on a daily basis. Of course, the left attacks with vengeance Donald Trump and anyone who even whispers a minute amount of support for him or his policies.

Yet, more sadly, the world is watching the church. And, with some notable exceptions, I believe the church has failed miserably this year.

Where is the anointing? The power? The undeniable, supernatural love? Too many of today’s Christians have chosen social justice over holy justice. We need an other-worldly move of God to absolutely crush our nation. Where are God’s people who are truly repentant (and repenting), who are rending their hearts, who are interceding for their enemies instead of bashing them?

Where are those who are more interested in the salvation of Washington D.C. and Hollywood then they are in campaigning for the restoration and protection of their personal freedoms? Are there any who, while still maintaining concern for the direction of our nation, will focus mostly on contending for their enemy’s souls?

Can you imagine what would happen if some of our nation’s influencers had a genuine, undeniable, supernatural, life-altering visit by a holy, burning God?

I suggest the following passage of Scripture would make an excellent focus of intercession for those who have yet to experience God in this way:

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,” (Revelation 1:12–17, ESV)

An encounter like that would fix, overnight, the tyranny in California and New York. It would change politics, media and the landscape of our entire nation in a moment.

More than fighting our oppressors, let’s truly pray with passion for them. Let the tears flow. Cry out. Pursue love. Go hard after legitimate revival. Start a revolution.

If you'd like to kick start your intercession, leave a 60-second prayer for Alyssa Milano at www.prayerteam.tv.

Photo credit: “File:9.12.15AlyssaMilanoByLuigiNovi1.jpg” by Luigi Novi is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Originally published by The Stream.