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:
- Lengthy sessions of corporate praying and singing in tongues
- Embracing a vibrant prophetic culture
- Encouraging people to release prayers, decrees and declarations on the mic during service
- Inviting people to make biblical declarations
- Promoting prophetic art, flagging, dance and other expressions during the service
- Providing prayer for deliverance, healing and freedom
- 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Originally published by The Stream.
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.
Originally published by The Stream.
Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.
Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.
Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.
When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.
The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)
DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)
The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.
We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.
Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.
Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.
Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.
WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.
We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.
Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?
Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.
The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.
When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:
22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)
TAKE A BREAK
As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.
They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.
Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.
I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.
The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.
Only two things can eradicate a powerful and strategic spirit of witchcraft that's kneeling on the neck of our nation: Deliverance or judgment.
“One purpose common to all forms of witchcraft is control.” ~Derek Prince, The Seeking of Control
It shouldn't be surprising that Derek Prince also reveals that the fuel to the power of witchcraft is, in part, sacrifice. Animal sacrifice. Human sacrifice.
With that in mind, we should not be at all shocked with the events of today. Human sacrifice in the form of abortion has given power to mighty demonic schemes in our nation. The sacrificial blood of innocents is flowing from sea to shining sea.
The church has been given a chance to lead our nation in repentance in this time of testing. Instead, Christians are clamoring for church and life to return to normal. It doesn't seem mass repentance is going to happen in our nation. At least not yet.
As people who are expected to understand the spiritual realm, Christians should be clearly discerning what's happening with the upheaval. We should be living, walking and praying in the Spirit, cued in to what wars invisible entities are initiating and what their end game is.
Instead, a large percentage of blood-bought people are mostly seeking natural remedies just as those who have no advocate in Jesus. They would probably admit to “trusting God's will” while having no idea what his will is. Their relief doesn't come from knowing the Word of God or standing in their authority. It comes from closely adhering to the advice of media, medicine and magistrates.
The obvious retort, especially in secularized, humanistic America, is to accuse me and others like me of overspiritualizing the crisis. After all, natural solutions will work just fine, right? Ridiculous.
Don't overspiritulize? I'm dismayed at how underspiritualized COVID-19 and the rest of the 2020 crisis has been. All too often, Christians are mirror images of the world in terms of their response.
The truth is that this leviathan will only be defeated in the spirit realm.
WITCHCRAFT IS DRIVING THE ASSAULT IN OUR NATION
There are three ways the desire to control expresses itself: manipulation, intimidation and domination. The goal is domination. ~Derek Prince, The Seeking of Control
In his excellent article, Derek Prince says, “A main tool of manipulation is guilt.” The enemy will speak into our souls, convincing us that guilt will overwhelm us if we don't respond to his specific directives. The only obvious solution for those who haven't correctly discerned the source of the command is to obey the voice.
We are watching manipulation, intimidation and the end goal of domination play out before our eyes every day during the pandemic and social uprising. Groups are intimidating through protests and riots. Politicians and reporters are manipulating their audiences.
As Believers, we cannot allow ourselves to be seduced into seeking natural resolutions instead of (or ahead of) spiritual ones. We can attempt to treat the symptoms, but the wicked evil that has been unleashed upon our nation will not be deterred.
In my decades of ministry I've had some intense encounters with witchcraft and one of the prime factors when under its influence is the feeling of suffocation. You can't easily breathe. Additionally, fevers, confusion, fear, sickness, hopelessness and other manifestations are common.
We all know that George's life tragically came to an end shortly after he uttered the infamous words, “I can't breathe.” He was suffocated.
The enemy clearly desires to control the people of our nation. I do believe, spiritually speaking, that the masks are absolutely symbolic of his scheme. As I've shared, key indicators of witchcraft are control and suffocation, and masks are physical manifestations of both. (Keep reading for my opinion on whether we should wear masks or not.)
The virus attacks the respiratory system. Suffocation is the goal, and a last gasp (almost literally) effort to save the patient from having the airflow stopped comes in the form of ventilators. They are simply another reminder that witchcraft is behind this deadly assault.
CHURCH CLOSURES/SINGING BANNED
If you know anything about the strategies of witches you know they target churches. They infiltrate them, pray against them, curse them and do all they can to destroy them. I've had dramatic encounters with witches when leading churches. Threats of death and destruction were hurled at my family, my church and myself.
Further, in certain places, the government has mandated singing in church to cease. While people must be physically muzzled with masks, this ventures into the spiritual, muzzling voices of worship to God.
Witchcraft and rebellion to authority go hand-in-hand. While respectful peaceful protests can bring appropriate attention to a matter, riots and violence cross far over the line.
Interestingly the “I can't breathe” storyline continues as Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland confessed yesterday, “It’s hard to breathe, it’s a lot harder to breathe than I thought,” Wheeler told The Washington Post after he was tear-gassed. “This is abhorrent. This is beneath us.”
SOME PROTESTS EXEMPTED
As outlandish as it sounds, mayors and governors have actually admitted to exempting certain protesters and rioters from mandated masks and social distancing. If the agenda matches theirs, they turn a blind eye. So hateful aggressors can spit and shout as a massive mob, but Christians can't sing? Do you see the enemy winning the narrative as Believers stand down? It's happening. Witchcraft has intimidated, manipulated and controlled and few are rising up in opposition.
Again we see the suffocating muzzles, this time covering the mouths of people online. Shadow banning, deleted posts and cancelled accounts have become the norm as social media leaders are exerting control. The stranglehold on free speech is tight enough to threaten the very life of one of our nation's most sacred rights.
Suffocating people's livelihoods and forcing people to shelter in place is further evidence of the restrictive, constrictive nature of this year's crisis. This has been an easy sell to a fearful people.
Be sure to read my article on this topic on The Stream. Manipulation is on display as people curse others who don't measure up, or who have failed at some point in their past.
We must understand that our battle is mostly spiritual, not natural.
This is a very important point to consider as it will directly impact our response to the crisis.
For example, I don't believe the answer is to refuse to wear a mask. Sure, make your voice heard and your arguments clear in whatever setting is most appropriate. Stand opposed to mandated mask laws if that's what you desire. Communicate with your lawmakers. But, at the end of the day, a rejected mask isn't a tool in your spiritual tool belt.
I personally wear masks when necessary. It's not a sign of defeat or compromise to wear a mask. My strategy against the spirit of witchcraft in our nation isn't natural. It's spiritual.
Further, while it can be argued that lockdowns aren't (or are) necessary in a pandemic, the answer isn't to fight that fight in the natural.
Opposing the symptomatic laws and social pressures will not result in victory against a very powerful, intelligent, wicked and invisible enemy. We must fight in the Spirit.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (ESV)
So, just what is the resolution?
I believe we have two choices: Deliverance or judgment.
Deliverance of this suffocating, controlling, manipulating, intimidating demonic force on a national level will require mass repentance. I'm talking about full-blown revival from California to New York. This principality must be cast out.
If revival and deliverance don't come very quickly, judgment is the next viable option.
We can trust God's loving judgment to make wrong things right. His deep love for his people demands he take action when wickedness overtakes the nation.
Remember, I firmly believe, at least in part, child sacrifice is to blame for the plague and protests. You can add to that the rampant, deviant sexual sin that has infected so many and blatant rebellion against God (which, as we know, is as the sin of witchcraft).
I prefer deliverance over judgment, but if judgment comes, so be it. I trust God to take care of business and to bring justice to a people who have been cursed, manipulated and muzzled.
When crisis comes, the church must respond with a fiery resolve to fan the flames of revival.
Revival or riots? It's clear which one is taking the nation by storm right now.
It's been said that wherever Paul went he'd kick-start either a revival or a riot. The sharp edge of the message he was bringing resulted in people either surrendering all to follow Jesus or in a mass resistance.
5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. Acts 17:5-6 (NLT2)
When the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached we can expect either revival or riots. However, the riots that are erupting in cities all over the nation as a result of the horrific and inexcusable death of George Floyd has nothing to do with a powerful message of truth. Love expressed through the truth of the Word will result in a rioting mob, but so will hate. Today's riots have everything to do with hate and nothing to do with love. All of this is happening on the church's watch.
RIOTING IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD
Pastor Eric Smith of Destiny Church in Dayton, Ohio saw a protester holding a sign that repeated the words of Martin Luther King: Riots are the language of the unheard.
Eric simply and profoundly said, “Time to get a new language.”
It's important to note that Dr. King was a fierce resistor of violent protest. His analytical statement, however, was true. When people are not heard, when they are pushed to their limits, it's possible to break. An uprising is to be expected. However, Pastor Eric was correct. If riots are the language of the unheard, it absolutely is time to get a new language.
WICKED SPIRITS OVERTAKING OUR NATION
Part of my grief over the death and violence that has erupted is due to a loss of discernment in our nation. I believe there's a mighty spirit of confusion that's settling over America right now.
Coronavirus exposed a severe spirit of fear that absolutely devastated millions, whether they were infected by the virus or not. Mobs verbally assaulted those who didn't wear a mask while shopping. Stop and think about just how fierce that demonic spirit of fear is.
Then a spirit of rage and, for many, hatred exploded overnight after another heart-wrenching and tragic death of an African-American at the hands of a police officer. A call to “kill cops” is being sounded by some in the midst of this crisis. As you watch the news and witness fires burning all over the nation, you can understand the power of this particular spirit of rage and hate as well.
Another spirit preceded our recent testings, and it's gaining strength today. America has been seduced by a strong delusion. Strange confusion has overtaken our culture.
Just a week ago, protesters marching against the lockdowns due to COVID-19 were called murderers by some because they weren't social distancing or wearing masks. Fast forward several days and a new set of protests emerged in the land for a very different reason. Where are the calls for social distancing and masks as peaceful protesters marched and as rioters converged in mass to destroy businesses and attack people including business owners and police officers?
Add to this the gender confusion that's been in the news in recent years. Men are women and women are men, so it seems, and you can be legally responsible if you don't address these people by their chosen gender. It's absolutely bizarre.
I could write into the night with example after example of strange confusion and delusion that has spread through society. Suffice it to say it's clear that a very wicked and very strong demonic agenda has been unleashed against our nation. Fear, rage, hate and delusion have blanketed the land and it's time for the church to finally rise up.
A NEW LANGUAGE
Some of you will be frustrated with my prescription in the midst of the virus and riots and madness. Most, it seems, are looking for governmental resolutions, legislation and penalties for those who don't comply. While appropriate new laws can certainly help, the truth is that we can never legislate away the assaults of invisible and very crafty evil spirits. Satan rages and he won't submit to man's laws. You can't create a law that eliminates hatred. You can't create systems that alleviate fear. Why? These are spirits warring against us and the only way to fight back is in the invisible, spiritual realm.
The grief that grips me is that most are looking for logical and natural solutions to a spiritual problem. While we can certainly take some steps in the natural, our victory won't be found there.
The new language that Pastor Eric was referring to, if I might suppose just a bit, centers around repentance instead of riots, love instead of hatred and spiritual violence instead of natural rage.
Simply, we must pursue full-blown, supernatural and overwhelming revival as our primary resolution. The new language, at its root, is passionate, aggressive and vein-popping intercession. We as God's government on the earth must rise up and pray!
This is the force the spirit of the age must feel coming against it in these end times. As we live a life of soul-ripping repentance and contend for revival in the land, we will be consumed with the desire for prayer. The need will overwhelm us. Tears will flow down our cheeks as we stand in the gap as spiritual warriors and push the enemy back.
It makes little sense to attempt to seek peace in the midst of war when the enemy hasn't yet been defeated. The enemy isn't a virus or blacks or whites or Asians or the police or politicians. To think so is laughable. The destruction of the adversary, of Satan's hordes, is the solitary key to winning this battle and driving out spirits of fear, rage, hatred and confusion.
It's the love of Jesus that will cause us to fight like this. From that place of intercession and spiritual warfare we will discern the enemies that those who are not living in the spirit can't see. We are God's secret agents and revival is our cry.
Imagine the cities that are burning today transformed by the fire of the Holy Spirit! We need millions to fall desperately in love with Jesus! The harvest is ripe! They are waiting for an otherworldly message that will shock them to their core and drive them to their knees!
Only then will we have the revival and riots that Paul experienced. As for the riots we are seeing today, they are the cry of the unheard. Yes, we must all listen to them, hear their pain and cry with them. I also pray their cry turns to intercession instead of violence. That's the language that Pastor Eric was really talking about.
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.
It's time for a humble yet unapologetic and holy army to stand opposed to the unrighteous restrictions of human government.
Many politicians, police officers, judges and officials would be shocked to hear that the American government isn't the supreme authority in the nation. In fact, they would scoff at the higher ranking government they must yield to: the church.
God's government is based on the Word of God, is legislated through the church and is positioned higher than any other government, court room or human establishment on earth. Simply, if a human order, law or mandate violates orders, laws or mandates found in Scripture, the Bible wins. God reigns supreme.
When there is no conflict between man-made and spiritual ordinances, it's right and expected to obey the laws of the land. Doing so helps establish integrity and promote humility as we intermix with the world. However, there comes a point when civil disobedience is not only suggested but required if we are to respond obediently to the Lord, the highest power, the greatest governmental leader the world will ever know.
LOCKDOWN: A VIOLATION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Daniel 6:12 (ESV)
A 30-day lockdown was enacted in the kingdom and religious freedom was forbidden. Petitions and permissions could only be received from the lawmaker, the king. Daniel understood this was unquestionably the time for civil disobedience, and he also understood the consequences. His thrice daily prayer continued.
Daniel famously was instrumental in the establishment of this tyrannical government when he interpreted the handwriting on the wall for the previous ruler, King Belshazzar.
23 …And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. Daniel 5:23 (ESV)
Daniel rebuked the king for dishonoring God, just as his father had. Where are the prophetic leaders today who are confronting today's governmental officials in the same manner? It's time for God's people to arise and to renounce the wickedness that's poisoning our nation and attempting to neuter the church.
Daniel went on to interpret King Belshazzar's supernatural encounter by revealing an end to the kingdom. It would be divided and given to the Medes and Persians. That very night the king was killed and the kingdom was given over as prophesied. Now, Daniel had to deal with the new ruler who was forbidding his intercession.
Members of an armed Michigan militia say they will stand at the door of a barbershop in Owosso to protect the owner from being arrested for allegedly violating the state's lockdown order.
“We are here to make sure he doesn't get arrested,” Daniel Brewer, a member of the militia, told local media on Saturday. “We're willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today.” ~Washington Examiner
Once again the secular world is responding more courageously and speedily than so many in the church when liberties are threatened. While many Christians have been exposed as having dimmed and dulled discernment as they have surrendered their religious rights for the promise of health and safety, we see bold if not brash patriots standing in solidarity with a 77-year-old man who was simply trying to earn a living. Where are those who will stand up for the church? We are closer to going underground then any of us realize, and it because of a cowardly people who refuse to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure religious freedom remains.
I want to make it very clear: church leaders have every right to choose to forgo services, prayer meetings and other events if they deem it necessary based on their own unique situation. What is not allowed is a lower ranking government attempting to trump the greater authority, the Word of God. Mayors and governors have no right to mandate a ceasing or limiting of prayer meetings and other church gatherings. Many are arrogantly demanding the church petitions only them. The idea that Scripture has any authority in today's crisis is laughable to them. They have determined nobody else would dictate how the church should function. Not Christians, not pastors, not the Bible, not even God.
The truth is, the church isn't the only organization that outranks the United States government. The Constitution of the United States outranks local, state and federal governmental authority (when they attempt to establish rulings that contradict that document), and the Constitution is clearly on the side of religious liberty. The case for civil disobedience can be made.
The resistance should be done in an honoring, humble and appropriate manner, and shouldn't be fueled by anger or malice. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we must be driven by a resolve to honor God in the midst of unrighteous demands of society.
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. Acts 5:27-29 (ESV)
GET READY FOR THE LIONS
We all must be prepared to face the repercussions of our actions. The government will do what it wills in the face of resistance. We've already seen both threats and action brought by ungodly mayors, governors and political leaders including filling skate parks with sand, arresting pastors, placing moms in handcuffs for taking their children to the playground, requiring churches and businesses to report the names of patrons and ticketing church goers at a drive in service. If we don't do something, it will get worse. Much, much worse.
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Daniel 6:16 (ESV)
There will be a national taunting of Christians, and we as Believers must be ready both to face the lions and to stand in great faith as our God brings the accusers to shame.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:19-22 (ESV)
A blameless people will reveal God's miraculous saving power to a stunned nation. As we refuse to stop praying, respond to worldly authorities with integrity and honor and remain willing to pay whatever price necessary to obey God rather than man, God will move in undeniable and miraculous power. America will have no option but to take notice, and the very government officials that brought the angst to God's people will be instrumental in a sudden outbreak of revival in the nation. The process may be severe, and we must be ready to face lions, giants and the hordes of hell, but the resulting outpouring of God will make it all very much worth it.
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 (ESV)
Originally published by The Stream.