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

BREAKING: Jeff Jansen Scrutinized for Trump Prophecies, Dismissed from Church Leadership

Controversial prophetic leader Jeff Jansen is under fire this week.

Newsweek brought a controversial viewpoint, one held by many Christians (and refuted by many others) to the forefront yesterday. “What's coming can't be stopped,” Jansen said in a Facebook video on Tuesday. “There's all kinds of amazing things that are happening, and I'm talking about President Trump. I'm talking about him coming back into power.… I'm talking about everything that God promised, back-to-back terms.”

While many who have dug their heels into the ground regarding the certain re-election of Donald Trump have quietly stopped pushing their agenda, Jeff Jansen continues to stand firm. Other ministers have issued apologies for missing the prophetic mark but there are some, Jeff included, who are not shying away on what they feel is inevitable—the heroic return of Donald Trump.

Newsweek followed up with another report today, “Evangelical Christian pastor Jeff Jansen, a self-described “prophet,” said that he is “quadrupling down” on his prophecy that former President Donald Trump will be reinstated—despite his previous prediction that this would happen by the end of April failing to materialize.”

I've often wondered just what benefit there is to predicting certain things such as who the next President will be. Understand, I fully affirm legitimate prophetic ministry. I'm convinced we need to hear God's voice more, not less. In fact, God will be revealing extremely important information to those who have an ear to hear as we move deeper into the End Times. Key revelation will be needed so the church can respond in strategic intercession and move into position to battle the enemy and advance the Kingdom. Without divine communication, God's people will be at a great disadvantage. We can be sure those who are tuned in to the evil one will respond with precision to his commands.

That being said, the barrage of prophecies about Donald Trump have resulted in some really bad fruit and widespread division among Believers. I honestly can't think of any healthy, beneficial result of forcing these so-called prophecies into the mainstream conversation. Are we looking for an I-told-you-so moment? I know many are. They point their fingers and puff out their chests as they proclaim, “Just wait, you'll see. The prophets were right and you will be exposed as one who is lacking faith, naturally minded and listening to the voice of the enemy.” I know that sounds extreme, but that sentiment, if not those very words, is being relayed. Those who disagree with the prophecies are outed as doubters, enemies of God's plans.

I'm so appreciative of Dr. Michael Brown's leadership in releasing the Prophetic Standards Statement. It's time for calibration to God's Word in the prophetic camp. The “thus sayeth the Lord” approach to prophecy is often damaging to those who are listening, and watching, and waiting for the word to come to pass. Quite often, it does not and the level of faith of those who are tainted by the unnecessarily bold prophecy plummets.

JEFF JANSEN HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM MINISTRY

To say Jeff is under fire this week would be an understatement.

I believe it's necessary to emphasize how important it is to pray for Jeff. We all know, regardless of his situation, Satan is looking to devour him. We shouldn't be doing the same. Love-driven intercession for Jeff, especially right now, is mandatory. Yes, it's appropriate to address the issues that Jeff is bringing front and center, and it's right to confront any trouble that results. This is a seriously critical season of learning for the church, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to recalibrate us. Unfortunately, people God loves can often be spotlighted during such seasons. Our response must include sobriety, fervent prayer, introspection, repentance and a determination to undergird those in challenging seasons. The enemy wants to crush Jeff. God wants to bless Jeff.

In possibly unrelated news to Jeff's controversial prophetic views, Newsweek reviewed a message received by those connected with Global Fire Church. Jeff's information seems to have been removed from the church website and his wife, Jan Jansen, is now listed as the Senior Leader.

“It is with deep sorrow that Jeff Jansen has been asked, by his board, to step down as Co-Senior Leader of Global Fire Church, and from Global Fire Ministries due to unscriptural and unbiblical behavior. He was asked to step down in April, and this was made public to the church body on May 2, 2021. A statement was released to partners and friends on May 5,” the email said. “Rather than submit to the process of healing and restoration, Jeff recently made an intentional decision to leave his wife and family to pursue his own desires. He remains unrepentant and unremorseful,” the ministry said. The statement noted that any further actions or statements from Jansen should not be associated with Global Fire Ministries.

Many years ago I had a significant “God moment” that was nothing short of miraculous, and Jeff was instrumental. I had the opportunity along with a few others to connect with him in his hotel suite in the Detroit area. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that God dramatically impacted my life through Jeff. The reports from this week are grieving to my spirit and I hurt for him and his family.

Unfortunately, we as Christians have the responsibility to react and respond, and if necessary, warn about trouble. Certainly, we also have the responsibility to pray. We don't know what's going on inside of the heart of those who are in the midst of trial. We are left with the call to analyze fruit. Bad fruit doesn't make someone bad. It doesn't make them unredeemable. Quite the opposite. Those are the very ones God desires to reveal his love to in an even more powerful way.

Of course, this part of the comments by Global Fire Church is quite disturbing:

“Rather than submit to the process of healing and restoration, Jeff recently made an intentional decision to leave his wife and family to pursue his own desires. He remains unrepentant and unremorseful.”

If true, Jeff is without question disqualified from ministry. In fact, his soul is in jeopardy. Satan is raging and the church must respond in love and en force!

The takeaways to all of this include the need to cover (not cover up) our brothers and sisters in Christ. We as the church must endeavor for prophetic accuracy and conformity to biblical protocols. We should understand the times we are in volatile. We have no option to dabble haphazardly in the prophetic. We need to embrace humility. Intercession must skyrocket.

I'd like to conclude by saying I'm praying that Jeff is well, the reports are not accurate and that concern is unwarranted. If his prophecies come true, we should celebrate. If the situation in the church and with his family is other than is being reported, we can rejoice. We need more bold prophetic leaders right now, and for many years, Jeff Jansen has been one of them. At this point, however, it seems all of us, Jeff included, should seek God's face and allow him to refine, redefine and renew us. A humble, repentant heart is necessary if we are to endure what is to come.

Photo credit: “play of light in santhome church” by VinothChandar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Death Row, the Gas Chamber and America’s Grave Distractions

In this end-time hour, Christians are distracted by everything from politics, masks, American freedom, building ministries and seeking all sorts of pleasures. 

“Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”

Standing in the gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, I overheard our guide's story of the last moments of a prisoner's life.

The air-tight capsule took the lives of forty people between the years of 1937 and 1989. The Warden would pull a lever initiating the process that combined sodium cyanide and sulfuric acid. The resulting gas would painfully and all-too-slowly end a human life.

A few short feet from the cramped gas chamber was a cell. This is where death row inmates spent their last few hours before being secured with leather straps to the last chair they would ever sit in. The cell was also the place their last meal was eaten. 

As the story goes, after eating a portion of his meal, the unnamed prisoner was escorted from his cell toward the gas chamber. A guard took the unfinished meal to throw it away, which caused the concerned prisoner to say, “Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”

He wasn't joking. He didn't fully grasp what was about to happen. Eternity was not on his mind.

There was no need to save the food. He would not be finishing it later. 

I propose the whole of America, and the bulk of the church isn't grasping what is about to happen either. Eternity is not on the mind of most.

DISTRACTED IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING

I received a text message several years ago that launched me into one of the most bizarre, sad and thankful moments of my life. The message contained condolences from a pastor in Branson, Missouri. My dad died. I immediately called my mom and she confirmed the unexpected news. My head was spinning as I immediately started mentally preparing for a sudden trip from Detroit to Branson. Suddenly the phone call with my mom dropped as another call was coming in. It was from my dad.

Dazed and confused, I answered the phone. My dad was alive. I asked him, “What in the world is going on?” His voice was weak as he explained that news of his death was premature. My mom was bedridden and was not able to be with my dad in the hospital. She heard incorrectly and shared the false status with friends and family. News spread and my dad, who was literally on his death bed, called all over town (where he was very well known) letting people know he was still alive.

He told me, “I'm still in the land of the living, but it won't be long.”

He was peaceful, thoughtful, still with a sense of humor and focused on his soon coming transition into eternity. 

Our family made the long drive and I was able to see him, though he was sedated and unable to respond. He died that night.

Of course, I was deeply sad, but I was also thankful I was able to talk with my dad on that fateful phone call one last time.

Eternity is coming to all of us and it is of supreme importance that we talk about it. A lot.

Can anybody explain to me why it's so rare for pastors and preachers to prepare people for the end-times, much less eternity? Does anybody know why Christians are so distracted by the cares of life instead of staying intently zeroed in on the most dramatic moment of their lives, entering into forever?

We are distracted by lesser things in the land of the living while not understanding there is a transition coming soon and very soon.

MISGUIDED ENERGY

I've never seen such passion from people as I have in the last year. Sadly, it's not because of revival. The zeal isn't a result of encountering the Holy Spirit. People haven't been provoked by the soon coming return of Jesus. No, people are shouting with ferocity about masks, elections, riots and politics of every sort. They are energized by the short-term, temporal issues of this lifetime. 

Other passions people are exhibiting have nothing to do with the previous year in our nation. Many ministers have been drunk on growing bigger churches and email lists for decades. Christians are trying to live the American dream while forsaking their Kingdom perspectives. Idols, fears, desires and debates are distracting us.

I'm not saying we can't joyfully invest ourselves in the life God gives us. We can. We should. There's a right and good way to deal with politics, cultural issues, our jobs, family demands, dreams, building businesses and everything else that fills up the seventy or so years we are on the earth. However, the moment the land of the living takes precedence in our daily lives is the moment our lives become endangered. Everything we do must be in sync with preparing for the end-times and the coming trillions (endless) years of our eternity.

DEATH ROW

We are all on death row. It's a sobering thought, one that most of us want to shut out, but it's truth. 

I wish I could explain the feeling I had as I was standing outside of the small out-building that contained the gas chamber. The left door was for spectators of the execution. The right was for the inmate, Warden and others directly involved with the process. I was overwhelmed, spiritually more than emotionally, as I envisioned demons all around preparing to escort one of the parade of souls into their version of eternity. This literally played out time after time in years past as unrepentant criminals vacated their bodies and entered the torments of hell. Only those who authentically surrendered their lives to Jesus prior to the gas overwhelming them would see angels instead of demons. 

As I looked at the never-ending rows of claustrophobic cells in the main prison cell blocks, my feeling was only enhanced. Sadness struck me knowing the despair and hopelessness that possessed all who lived there throughout the years prior to the prison closing. While we are debating over Trump and Biden and viruses and vaccines, people are flooding into eternity. Imprisoned souls are hopeless as the church is distracted.

It wrecks me knowing the high majority of those inside that prison entered into madding torture that will never end. Friends, we must change our focus. 

I'm troubled by how few are waking up every morning preparing for the end. We should also be preparing others. It's coming very soon, and the distractions in our nation are killing us.

Our life now is but a vapor. What we focus on everyday matters, and that focus must absolutely be eternity.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13–14, ESV)

ABUNDANT LIFE

“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)

Not only will we be full of life but others will be powerfully impacted when we are driven by eternity. 

Our life in Jesus is not as much about finding satisfaction here as it is in living with eternity as our prime focus. It's about Jesus and ruling and reigning with him forever! It's about sounding alarms and warning as many as we can about the reality of hell and the hope of Jesus. It's about capturing the heart of God and preparing our families for the end season we are quickly moving into. 

Let's reprioritize pretty much everything and look at politics, viruses, the church, our families, our dreams, our entertainment and all the rest through the lens of eternity. The flow to hell will slow and the church will be ready for all that is to come. Masks, viruses and politics won't be as important and will finally receive attention with a Kingdom perspective.

Both angels and demons are getting ready for our point of transition into eternity, not to mention billions of others all over the world. 

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2, ESV)

Originally published by The Stream.

“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.

People Worship, Distorted Love and Abandoning the Faith

A distorted view of love is causing followers of Jesus to renounce—or redefine—their faith.

“I love you guys, and I love all the support and friendships I’ve built here [Instagram]…I think it’s important to say that I’m just not a Christian anymore, and it feels really good. I’m really happy…I’m really happy.”

That's former Desiring God writer Paul Maxwell.  He continues, “I love my life for the first time…and I love myself for the first time.”

Paul Maxwell comes across as an authentically kind and caring person in the article. His desire for connectivity and relationships is clear, In fact, it would do all of us well to grow in tenderness and passion for people. The problem comes when we elevate people, including self, to an inappropriate and unworthy level. Pastors, it would do you well to know that a focus on people isn't primary.

Paul Maxwell mentioned love and happiness repeatedly, revealing a problem that's both driving people away from the church and infecting the church at the same time. I'll state it clearly: love has been distorted and happiness is not God's primary goal for our lives. The Gospel message has become skewed and confused. We must remember that mankind, you and I included, is fully deserving of Hell. 

PEOPLE WORSHIP

People have been worshiping people for a long time. Rock and movie stars are both stalked and adored. Everyone from paparazzi to those who buy the photos along with tickets and merch are famous for elevating their admiration to an unhealthy level. People worship.

However, idolizing celebrities is no longer the prime concern. People worship has gone mainstream. 

The Gospel message has morphed into a focus on people ahead of God in too many instances. Much of today's worship music has become entertainment driven as it focuses on who we are instead of who God is. Messages and entire movements are zeroing in on our great worth instead of our depravity. Churches are systematically wired to ensure visitors are valued, connected and comfortable in a sanitized, tepid, familiar living room environment.

Pastors are refusing to preach on holiness, hell, sin and repentance while favoring teachings on how much God loves us. They bend over backwards attempting to communicate human value while forsaking the revival-style messages that drove men and women to their knees.

The false-grace and false-love movements are infecting churches all over the world. Focus on the topics of identity and love is extremely valuable when handled rightly, and in the correct measure. However, an obsession with love and grace to the exclusion of judgment and fear of the Lord has resulted in many dabbling with the heresy of Universalism. 

People I know are teetering on the edge of Universalism as they are becoming convinced that love demands we affirm others regardless of belief or behavior. People worship elevates mankind while intentionally dismissing their sin as mere weakness. If the sin isn't dismissed, it's often celebrated as a unifying trait that brings mankind together as a loving band of misfits. What is forgotten, or ignored, or rejected is that sin literally kills. 

When we fully, radically and wholeheartedly surrender our lives to Jesus, his grace and mercy are overwhelming. The resulting peace, joy and abundant life are indescribable. However, today's people worship movement that is mirrored both in secular culture and the church attempts to relieve people of the struggle with sin by deeming it either benign or mildly concerning.

OUR HAPPINESS IS NOT GOD'S GOAL—AND IT SHOULDN'T BE OURS

Paul Maxwell's desire for authentic relationships is normal. However, this cannot be our goal.

Unredeemed humankind lives every moment seeking out the next pleasure, the next high, the next relationship. Those who don't know God are driven by a fervent passion to satisfy their desires. In fact, Christians who have merely made an intellectual or emotional decision to follow Christ are at similar disadvantage. This is why I unapologetically preach on authentic encounter with Jesus. Experiencing God supernaturally is the game changer. 

While I appreciate the effort, I tend to cringe when I see goodhearted preachers addressing secular audiences from an intellectual perspective. Facts, figures, history, logic and arguments that originate in the human mind have a place. We simply need to know that an intellectual approach is woefully limited. A Damascus Road encounter, however, changes everything. When we are visited by an otherworldly entity that floods our beings with divine love, power and freedom, attempts at a logical interpretation becomes laughable. 

When encounter comes, the Holy Spirit has phenomenal access to our lives. The Word of God then erupts in our spirits as we yearn for the truth it contains. It's at this point where human desires are dramatically calibrated to match God's. It's here where we understand that God's prime goal isn't to make us happy but rather to save our souls and to draw us into intimacy with him.

Deep friendships, sexual satisfaction, wealth, inner healing and other human desires become sanctified and reordered in importance. A life devoid of human friends stings less when our driving passion is to be a friend of God. A life of celibacy, should that be our portion, is a powerful sacrifice as we devote ourselves to knowing God more deeply. Again, our happiness isn't God's prime concern. Intimacy with him is.

THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION

Consider this portion from one of the most important articles I've ever written, The Great Love Deception:

Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.

In fact, love most certainly doesn't always feel good. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and you may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.

FINAL THOUGHTS

People are not to be worshiped. We are all deserving of eternal torment.

God isn't here to satisfy our happiness. Friend, we are in a spiritual war. It's time to lay down our lives, to embrace the cross, to prepare for martyrdom, to develop deep intimacy with Jesus and to live our lives storming the gates of Hell and battling wickedness on the earth.

From that place, yes, there most certainly is opportunity for developing deep, holy friendships, in developing a healthy, godly identity and in enjoying the life God gives us. But we cannot abandon the faith when it doesn't satisfy. We can't reject God when he doesn't meet our demands. We can't quit when our intellect doesn't grasp God's methods. We must not redefine our faith to elevate the value of people to worship status. We aren't in it for our fulfillment, or happiness, our joy or our mental and emotional health. We follow Jesus because he is God, he paid the ultimate price for us and he is literally our only hope.

Photo credit: “Athiest bus advert” by thegreatgonzo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by The Stream.

 

 

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.

Acts Chapter Two: Seeker Sensitive Version

Bible

The power of God manifesting in the church is rare today.

I'm an unapologetic revivalist.

The state of the world demands legitimate, other-worldly invasion of Holy Spirit power. Revival. I'm not talking about the controversial gifts of the Spirit or the unusual manifestations that are common in some churches today. I'm referring to God's undeniable power moving through congregations first and then ultimately to the nation and the rest of the world. Revival.

There is a sharp, supernatural anointing that must rest on preaching today.

Repentance, transformation and deliverance from all sorts of bondages are desperately needed. 

Instead, we see churches that major on encouraging talks, social connections and principles for successful living.

Several years ago I was challenged to write an alternate version of Acts chapter two that sadly mirrors much of church as we know it. Instead of carrying on about how much we need God to move again, I'll allow the translation to speak for itself. 

It shouldn't be necessary to qualify, but I will. This is satire. But, as is often true with satire, the similarities between what you are about to read and what we are seeing in the church today are shocking.

I'd like to challenge you. After you read it, read the actual, legitimate version and note the stark differences. Friends, we must have an Acts two revival in America again.

Acts 2: Seeker Sensitive Version

Disclosure: Not an accurate translation

The First Seeker Church is Born

Acts 2:1-47 (SSV) When the day of fellowship arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from the espresso machine a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and the aroma of ground, organic coffee beans filled the entire house where they were sitting. And the warmth of friendship touched each one of them. And they were all appreciative of the Holy Spirit and began to speak about the challenges of life as their human spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in the nation religious people, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak about the same life issues as they had. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking church goers? And how is it that we hear them talking about the same things we talk about? Chicago and Los Angeles and South Carolina and residents of Dallas, Denver and Orlando, Kansas City and Paris, 10 London and Amsterdam, Switzerland and the parts of Tijuana belonging to Mexico, and visitors from Australia, 11 both church goers and seekers, Americans and Europeans—we hear them asking in our own words their questions about God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They have had way too much coffee.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of America and all who dwell in Detroit, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not over-caffeinated, as you suppose, since the coffee bar has only been open a short time. 16 But this is what was uttered through the story teller and great motivator Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will encourage human wisdom to be poured out, and your sons and your daughters shall share relevant stories, and your young men shall create media presentations, and your old men shall not get in the way; 18 even on my guys and gals in those days I will give them new fashion sense, and they shall be hipsters. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, light shows, and pyrotechnics, and smoke machines; 20 Sunday School stories will be told about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the hard to believe, but great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that the mention of salvation will be subtle and culturally relevant.’ 22 “Men of America, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty human difficulties that he overcame, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, happily traded his life for yours. 24 God raised him up, as you have witnessed in your Easter stage productions. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, with great encouraging principles to help me stay strong; 26 therefore I was thrilled and really happy; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you, we don’t want to talk too much about Hell, which shouldn’t be a concern. 28 You have made known to me the six step plan for a happier life; you will make me full of gladness with your principles of victorious living.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the old guy David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a great motivator, and knowing that God promised that he would set someone in his family in his position, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the suspenseful drama of Jesus, and because of this you can be happy. 32 This Jesus God really appreciates, just like he appreciates you. 33 Hanging out with his Dad, and having received from him awesome wisdom, he has poured this out that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David couldn’t see into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “let’s hang out, 35 you have no more problems at all.”’ 36 Let all the Christians therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who traded his life for yours.” 37 Now when they heard this they were happily encouraged, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “This is pretty cool, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Simply know that God appreciates you just like you are and, over time, you will slowly start walking the direction he walks, and you will receive the gift of understanding and awesome living. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Make better choices than the others in this culture.” 41 So those who received his word received a free latte, and there were added that day about three thousand church attenders. 42 And they devoted themselves to the life coach’s stories and hanging out together, to the buffets and the low key talks about God. 43 And apathy came upon every soul, and no wonders or signs were being done through them. 44 And all who had questions were together and focused on happiness. 45 And they were buying new possessions and belongings and giving to social causes as they felt led. 46 And once or twice a month, listening to the leader’s stories together and watching football in their homes, they enjoyed eating, 47 thinking about God and being pretty much the same as all the other people in the world. And they added to their number day by day those who were being anesthetized.

Another Disclosure: This is really, really not an accurate translation. Thank God.

Photo credit: “Open Bible with pen Antique Grayscale” by Ryk Neethling is licensed under CC BY 2.0