Watch the video & read the article: Confessions of a Frustrated Revivalist
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Luke 12:49-50 (ESV)
If Jesus is distressed I think we should be as well. I am. I’m frustrated. I’m angry.
I’m 46 years old and have greater clarity than ever in my life—I am running out of time. The pursuit for city-wide revival has never been more intense for me, yet the window of opportunity as far as my role is concerned won’t be open forever.
In fact, I fully realize that the firestorm I’m so fervently pursuing for our nation may arrive after I’m gone from my physical body. I think of people like David Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill, modern day heroes who gave their lives for revival. They both left the earth before that which they were so passionate about manifested. Their work, however, shall not be in vain! I believe there is an army that God is making ready—a people who live for little else other than fanning the flames of legitimate, nation shaking revival.
While I understand spiritual labor in the here and now may not result in an outpouring until much later, I am nonetheless in a constant state of healthy frustration. My estimate is that many other revivalists are as well. The driver of the frustration is that any city in any nation could experience historic revival in a matter of months if only the response and the focus were correct. That reality haunts me.
Before you presume that any attitude of frustration is inappropriate, jump into the Bible and experience the expressive emotions of David and many others. The circumstances varied, but the frustration and anger were passionate.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:19-24 (ESV)
6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. Nehemiah 5:6 (ESV)
34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. 1 Samuel 20:34 (KJV)
I propose we need a movement of angry, frustrated saints who have had enough! Frustration without action leads to despair. Frustration plus action equals revolution! A righteous anger must rise up (there is an unrighteous anger the Bible warns us about) against every hindrance to God’s plans for revival in our generation. It’s time to contend for the fire to ignite before we finish our race on the earth!
Church cultures & movements that aren’t revival focused
It’s astonishing to me how rare it is to find churches that are radically invested in nurturing a powerful culture of revival. I really want you to hear me on this. The way you receive what I am communicating is critical. In no way am I dismissing or discounting the value of Christians who aren’t focused in this way—but, I am sounding the alarm. Focuses that don’t lead to or support revival will not be empowered or sustainable.
In fact, some of my favorite movements and streams can be a source of frustration at times. Let’s take the prayer movement, for example. I am a card carrying member of the prayer movement! The power of even the most simple prayer is enough to move an entire mountain, and that truth must be taught and modeled day and night all over the world. It’s that important. The frustration comes when the prayer is too often devoid of a fiery, other worldly explosion out of our spirits. I believe there are certainly times to soak in God’s presence, and I do that often when I’m alone with the Lord. However, to have a corporate prayer movement that doesn’t have that continual unction and the smell of fire is a movement that will fall short of the goal of revival.
We must return to gathering together in God’s raging presence, and during every church service or special event, breathe fire, fan the flames, awaken the sleepers and call the lost and lukewarm to repentance. No more sweet, happy services with sing-a-longs and nice teachings that give us a little extra knowledge. We must encounter God when we gather and cry out with groans for him to move in our city!
We need to see churches and movements that are intense and fervent, focusing on the fire of the Holy Spirit and with an atmosphere that is so hot that every lost soul that comes near it hits their knees and repents. In fact, a 2 Chronicles 7 church would be perfect:
1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV)
Can you imaging that happening at every service? I can. That’s why I’m frustrated.
A Focus on benefits
Is it not possible to gather hungry people to meetings without letting them know what’s in it for them? I’m frustrated—no, I’m angered—that today’s church has become so self-centered that we have traded in our mantles of prophet for those of salespeople, convincing they to buy what we are selling. Unless promises of healings, personal prophetic ministry, entertainment or other supposed values are given, the people will not show. I’m angry that exalting Jesus is not a sufficient enough of a reason for the masses to gather. This has to change. It’s about him, not us.
This self-centered attitude manifests in all areas of church and life. What if we didn’t give money to the storehouse for the sake of receiving more back? I’ve told people during the offering time that I can’t guarantee that they will be immediately financially blessed as a result of their giving—but those who receive their money will be. That should be enough to bring in millions of dollars! But, no, without promise of personal gain offerings tend to be quite small.
I’ve proposed that we hold an event called, “Come and Die.” A solemn assembly for those who are ready to surrender all no matter what the personal benefits are. We have too many Rich Young Rulers who will only follow Jesus if they can see the benefit.
21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:21-22 (ESV)
Evangelism has been compromised by this method of church growth as well. Instead of telling people how great their life is going to be when they follow Jesus, we need to tell them they are hopeless, lost in darkness and infected by sin. We need to let them know that there is a God who is worthy of their surrender! He is worthy of their worship! It’s not about their blessing as much as it is about God’s glory!
Does this mean we never talk about the benefits of the Kingdom? Of course not. But, if I can be frank, I’m sick of it removing the focus from our glorious King.
Shock about hard preaching
When did we as Americans become so thin skinned? Political correctness and hyper-sensitivity to anything that’s not ultra sappy is neutering our nation and our churches.
You have to hear me on this point. I just can’t understand how some consider messages that I preach, or stances that I take to be hard or excessively challenging. Have we become so desensitized to truth, and so comfortable with sweet, encouraging messages that anything that calls us higher is too intense? It’s madness!
I am actually convicted often of my own tendency to hold back, to soften sharp truth for the supposed benefit of the hearers. I feel God pulling on me continually to be more, not less, intense as I deliver critical alarms and calls to repentance.
Consider this portion of a parable. This is not sweet, encouraging teaching! It’s a demand for action!
47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:47-48 (ESV)
I’m begging preachers to finally say something worth listening to! Again, if I can be direct, if I hear another message that affirms people in their apathy, their casual approach, their passivity and their sin I think I’m going to vomit. I’m crying out for true prophetic voices to rattle the nations and to rebuke the resistant! I honestly can’t believe good Christian people shut their ears to messages like this in favor of those that have no cost or expectations attached to them. This is unacceptable! This is why we must aggressively alert people to the signs and seasons!
54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Luke 12:54-56 (ESV)
Pay close attention—those who are zealous for God and who are yearning to go deep in Jesus will always celebrate when direct, hard and costly messages are preached. They won’t reject them. They will respond to them immediately and shout for others to do the same.
One discerning person once told me the reason some people reject my messages as confrontational or too hard is simple—my messages, no matter the subject matter, have an unapologetic call to action attached to them. People would rather hear a word that they can easily forget or quietly reject, or, better yet, a word that lets them know how much the preacher affirms them! The focus is on feeling good and responding at their own pace instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to stare through their souls demanding an immediate and extreme change be made.
Please, God, give us a generation of unapologetic, raging, passionate, burning preachers like Leonard Ravenhill again.
Surrender to culture and schedules
Revival requires full immersion. Every Christian must invest extreme amounts of time, energy and money. There’s no other way around it. If we want revival we are going to have to be available virtually non-stop, day after day. I just don’t understand how any other activity compares to gathering together with others every day to contend in fervent prayer for revival. Why are other things given preference? Why are secular things given preference? It’s nonsensical.
Many people are interested in revival. Few are invested.
Can you imagine doing anything else in life after revival actually breaks out? We’ll get a few hours of sleep each night just to make room to be in the presence of God with others for hours every single day. But now, before revival breaks out, when the laborers are most needed, almost everything else is more important.
It’s embarrassing for our nation to model such a pathetic church culture. When I was in Haiti over a thousand people walked to the church every single night, many of them for two hours. There was no air-conditioning. It was not comfortable. But, they had nothing better to do! They were hungry for Jesus and they showed up. They responded to the call of their pastor. They were instant. They were expectant.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business… Matthew 22:4-5 (ESV)
It’s almost impossible to find a church that has Sunday morning and Sunday evening, not to mention Wednesday evening, services. In fact, Sunday morning services have been cut down to just an hour or two long. What in the world are we doing church? Instead of boldly leading change in the culture the church is being driven by culture!
Horizontal vs. vertical relationship
Please make sure you read this closely and don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. I absolutely believe God is fully in favor of people developing life-giving relationships with other people. It would be foolish to try to deny that. In fact, we need to see even greater community develop where unity and love are modeled to the world.
The frustration I’m dealing with has to do with priority. I have known some of the most intense lovers of Jesus experience setbacks because their desire for human interaction was more immediate than simply loving, serving and enjoying Jesus. They have pulled back from churches when they couldn’t connect with others, even if the opportunity to connect with God was there. This wrecks me!
Because of this, churches have lessened the emphasis on a vertical focus and majored on connecting people horizontally. Dysfunction follows.
I’m not unsympathetic to this issue. I understand how alone one can feel when attending a new church. However, we must power through that and keep in mind the very reason we are in the church service—to minister to God. It’s not mostly about making friends or finding a place to fit.
Even churches that reject the concept of church as a social club have erred on the side of a horizontal, social focus. If they don’t, people will leave, so they presume.
Though God is very much pro-relationship between people, he will never allow that to get in the way of our focus on him.
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:51-53 (ESV)
59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62 (ESV)
I suppose I just wish we could all gather together and, without the need to know everybody’s name and an interesting fact about their life, simply hit our face and worship! Pray! Contend! Grow! The rest will come in time.
Too many churches have gained people and lost the Holy Spirit. They have connected people to each other as a priority and God is the next one in line, yearning for their attention.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV)
Please, pastor, lets do away with prayer meetings. Develop a prayer culture.
10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:10-11 (ESV)
18 praying at all times in the Spirit… Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
It’s rare to find a church that actually has prayer as the main thing. Sure, they have prayer meetings—in a side room, at a time when most of the people aren’t in the building.
I was speaking in a church in Lakeland, Florida recently and I absolutely loved that their pre-service prayer was actually taking place in the sanctuary all the way up until the worship team started playing at 10am! Go figure! Prayer in the sanctuary!
17 …My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer… Mark 11:17 (KJV)
If every single person in the church doesn’t participate in fervent, corporate prayer, if it isn’t a primary reason they attend the church, if their face doesn’t light up when intercession goes up, something in that church is terribly broken. We should be disturbed. Alarms should be sounding. The house of prayer is prayerless!
This is a major issue, much more serious than we realize. Prayerless churches are easily at risk of being labeled Ichabod.
21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV)
Having a church full of Christians who don’t pray would be like hiring bank tellers who can’t count money, a radio DJ who refuses to talk, a mechanic who can’t change spark plugs or a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer who can’t swim. A church that has people who aren’t burning in fervent prayer simply does not make sense.
Jesus was frustrated with prayerlessness in the church as well:
37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Mark 14:37 (ESV)
To say I’m frustrated with such an extreme de-emphasis of prayer in the church today would be an extreme understatement. I’m indignant that more people aren’t rebuking that system and calling the remnant Believers to a lifestyle of solemn assemblies. We must have bold, prophetic voices in the church again. The church that doesn’t pray cannot be considered a church.
My own issues
Night time is my time to ponder and pray. Lately I have been growing extremely frustrated with my own condition. I am crying out for God to deliver the hard, sharp word to me. Rattle me! I don’t want there to be the slightest measure of unbelief, resistance to Him, pride or anything else that would hinder my walk with Jesus. Search my heart oh Lord!
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)
I am craving more than any other time in my life rapid growth and a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Anything less than explosive passion, a life of miracles and great faith is unacceptable!
God is longsuffering, but I don’t want him to suffer long. My desire is to grow at his pace, not mine. Am I doing okay? Sure. But I was not born to do okay! You and I were born to dominate! We are to take dominion! We are to heal the sick and raise the dead! Anything less would be tragic.
So, yes, I’m frustrated. But, it’s a frustration that will not lead to despair. There’s action involved. It’s time for a revolution. It’s time to act—right now.
Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.
We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill
Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!
We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.
The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.
In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.
We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!
“Why in God's name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn't get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10
If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.
“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene
“It is not enough to do God's work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer
Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?
When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.
While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.
Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”
“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”
When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”
Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz
Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?
“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43
as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8
When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19
We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5
When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?
I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: https://burton.tv/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/
The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4
God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.
However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.
What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.
Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13
Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.
Yesterday's prophets focused on causing people problems, and today's on fixing people's problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.
God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz
It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.
“If you're going to be a true Christian, I'll tell you one thing amongst others: it'll be a lonely life. It's a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you'll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.
I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.
“What's the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we've got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don't teach them; they don't hear a word about Hell. They're blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?
Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.
When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19
Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.
Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.
“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher” ~George Whitefield
If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.
There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.
They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.
The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards
The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.
We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.
“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller
First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.
Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.
“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan
The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.
We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.
“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God's law and to show the nature of sin.” ~Martin Luther
God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24
Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?
All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!
Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27
God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!
Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32
The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.
We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.
We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.
It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?
Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!
God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!
Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11
The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!
This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.
We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.
It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!
No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28
This is hard core!
The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!
As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:
Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church
After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:
Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.
I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.
I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.
Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:
Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).
You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”
Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)
There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.
A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.
After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”
God likes you, he loves you. Me too.
I'd strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:
As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.
- God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by even the most romantic or poetic language.
- When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I'm fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
- The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).
Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.
Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.
The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.
This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.
Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known. A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be! Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. He is the Revelation. He is the Word. Where God is, revelation is. You can’t separate the two.
As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.
God is calling the church to massive repentance.
God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.
Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” — Leonard Ravenhill
Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.
As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.
The church is almost homosexual.
This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.
Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?
As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:
Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.
I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.
They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.
“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray
“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray
The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.
We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.
I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.
1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.
We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.
We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.
I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride. We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle! A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?
When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.
This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.
I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.
However, we have a growing problem.
- Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
- Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.
1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.
But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.
Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.
This is a huge, huge point!
When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.
The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.
An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16
Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.
However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.
Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”
Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.
James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.
This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!
The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.
This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:
The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.
What does that mean?
We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:
- We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
- We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
- We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
- We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!
An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!
A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!
“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill
Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.
Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!
2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 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 heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.
It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!
The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.
It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.
It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.
It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.
Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?
Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
The spirit of the age is overwhelming the church in ways we may not have considered.
As is necessary when addressing an ultra-sensitive issue, I will make some qualifications on the front end:
God is without question, and I will declare without apology, passionately interested in blessing his children. It is fully appropriate to give a measure of attention to the wondrous process of discovery of God’s abundant life, overwhelming benefits and blessings.
That being said, I now must move on to offering some analysis on a hidden crises.
THE SPIRIT OF ABORTION…IN THE CHURCH?
As a prophetic messenger, a primary driving force of my daily life is to reveal and help destroy any barriers to Kingdom advance and the revelation of the cross and resurrection of Christ. In fact, we all must have our eyes wide open to this disturbing movement that is overtaking the church and stand in unity against its advance.
Now, of course, the thought of the spirit of abortion in the church is potentially offensive and certainly provocative. It’s a bold statement to say the least.
It’s important at this point to understand our discussion isn’t about all of those other Christians or all of those other churches that just don’t get it. We must look inward. Yes, we have to boldly and humbly ask ourselves the question, “God, are the same spirits that drive the abortion movement also driving me?”
Check out this quote which highlights the issue quite well. Notice how this person affirms killing a threat to other “good” endeavors:
Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. Abortion is profamily, prolife, moral, and good. For many millions of women, abortion has meant getting on with their lives and continuing to meet their responsibilities to themselves, their families, and society. PATRICIA W. LUNNEBORG, Abortion: A Positive Decision
Is it possible that we in the church are also more focused on getting on with our lives at the expense of God, the church, our mission, the Word and other people?
It’s shocking to me how Little League, school, family vacations and rest and relaxation are not looked at as threats to our personal freedoms, but a call to the prayer room is.
With that in mind, here’s another qualifying statement: The demonic abortion strategy is multi-faceted. It includes spirits of murder, violence, hatred and many others. While we as Christians may not be driven by those spirits, there is one spirit that has a foundational, comprehensive assignment. This spirit is what has infiltrated the church, and it’s, in my opinion, a key reason why we haven’t had the authority to eradicate it from its assignment of murdering babies.
This spirit has one key focus, one goal as it ministers to the minds and hearts of people:
People are focused primarily on their personal experience.
You could also call it selfish ambition.
Check out this passage of scripture:
James 3:13-16 (ESV) 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Selfish ambition is demonic. Jealousy, which results when we focus on our own personal experience, is also vile, earthly and demonic.
When a woman is carrying an unwanted baby, her focus immediately shifts to her own personal experience. Her ambition. Her dreams.
The call to lay down her life for another, to make a great sacrifice, to change her priorities, to embrace a life of struggle and inconvenience for another person all fall on deaf ears. After all, it’s her body and she can do what she wants with it, right?
One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living. AYN RAND, The Ayn Rand Lexicon
The unwilling mother has rights! It’s her life. It’s her time. It’s her dreams. It’s her decision, and in the case of abortion, she makes the decision for self instead of for another. Her personal experience was instrumental in her decision.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
So, how does this affect the church? This issue is impacting the church and Christians in very deep, disturbing ways. It’s not a minor issue that’s affecting a few. It’s a major problem that’s a primary driver in the very fabric of Western Christianity.
We have to understand that so much of preaching today has been fashioned to appease people looking for a positive personal experience. This must end.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Do you know how difficult it is to find churches that preach the cross? Cost? Death? Surrender? The personal experience must be positive and without much cost if we hope to fill the pews. The same thing happened at the cross. The place Jesus died was empty except for those killing him and those closest to him. Where were the crowds who were looking for a message to satisfy their itching ears? They left when the message included death. When you preach the cross the masses will run and you will be left with those who are the closest to you and those who are out to kill you.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.' The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” ~C. S. Lewis
What should send us to our knees is that it’s the very gospel of Jesus that is being rejected for the sake of the pursuit of personal blessing and benefit! There are preachers in churches with crosses on their steeples who refuse to call people to the cross at the altars! A minimized cross results in Christians that are only artificially vibrant as they pursue blessing, but dead and dying inside—and this has eternal implications!
It’s time for us to respond positively to what many have called negative messages; these piercing, demanding, shocking negative messages of death at the cross were born through God himself and delivered to us in the form of the Jesus.
“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Just like the woman who wants to remove the threat of a baby for the sake of her own personal experience, we in the church are all too often looking for relief and blessing instead of carrying a heavy cross for the sake of others! The refusal to sacrifice time, money, energy and our very lives on a daily basis results in a prayerless, self-centered, quasi-Christian that’s driven by the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Have you noticed that the biggest offerings tend to come when the emphasis is on what we can expect in return? The biggest conferences tend to be those that highlight personal breakthrough. The most appreciated sermons are those that reveal the blessings we can expect as Christians. I often wonder what would happen if we held a conference titled, “Come and die.”
We live in a day when we unwittingly embrace a deadly, self-centered spirit of religion.
Religion is: Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
When we don’t get what we want out of God our the church, we have an opportunity to accuse, to get angry, to place demands and to flee. When Jesus was here, the spirit of religion killed him because they didn’t get out of Jesus what they wanted.
The crowds were crying out, “Hosanna!” during the Triumphal Entry, which literally means, “Save us now!”
Jesus had of course decided to do just that—but not in a way they wanted.
In the next passage Jesus goes into the temple to overturn the moneychangers tables. Why? Because they were using the church for personal gain! The spirit of religion was in the temple! We are to enter the church with the expectation of leaving with LESS than we entered with, not more! We aren’t to use the church, but we are to bring an offering and to be a living sacrifice for the sake of others!
Then, that spirit of religion ended up killing Jesus. Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted in the way they wanted it. So, that spirit of abortion, of murder, took care of business.
Theocentric simply means we exist for God rather than He for us. Egocentric praying is our attempt at managing and directing God to accomplish our will instead of His. If “covetousness is idolatry” then attempting to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness is SIN! ~Harold Vaughn
The emphasis today seems to be on God alleviating our struggles instead of joining in on the great end-time struggle!
“If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Again, God loves to bless his children, but we must discuss the approach:
I absolutely love to give my kids presents. I come alive! My son Jet’s birthday was yesterday and I had so much fun watching his face beam as we opened presents, and as Chuck-E-Cheese led out in singing happy birthday. I also couldn’t wait to get him home, after he thought all of the presents had already been given, and see his face as he opened the shed to ride his bike…only to see his brand new bike sitting there! What a moment! Later that night we were laying on the hammock under the stars together, and he very casually and thoughtfully said, “Yep, this was about the best birthday ever…the best Chuck-E-Cheese birthday ever.”
Now, compare that to other days when I take the kids for a routine shopping trip to Walmart. From the moment they hit the door their sad, frustrated faces reveal what’s coming next. “Dad, please, can I have…”
No. No. NO! Over and over again. The tears come. The sadness increases. Their carnal nature is showing in radiant brilliance! Their consideration is not for mom and dad, our focus on saving money or anything else. It’s on self! You see, I often bring my kids with me when I go out just because I want to be with them, and to their credit, my wonderful children often want to be with me too! We love being together. But, something happens when the focus turns to self. What’s in it for me?
When threats to your dreams or your time or your personal endeavors come, how do you react? When preaching cuts instead of satisfies, how do you respond? The answer to these questions can go a long way in revealing what spirit you are driven by.
When the threats came to Jesus, he didn’t resist—he died. He surrendered for the sake of the world.
However, when the threat of a new King being born was discovered by Herod, he was troubled. The threat to his own personal experience, his reign as king, resulted in the spirit of abortion entering him.
Matthew 2:13 (ESV) 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Matthew 2:16 (ESV) 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
We see this pattern repeating itself throughout history. Massive resistance comes when a threat to personal experience arrives. It emerged, for example, when the African-Americans threatened a segment of society’s idea of racial purity. That resulted in the Ku Klux Klan and the horrific murders of many innocent people.
We saw it during the holocaust as Hitler was threatened by the Jews and other groups. Again, millions of innocent people died for the sake of one demented person’s overzealous aim to ensure his personal life experience was protected.
Today, terrorism is on the rise and murder is the strategy of choice for many who refuse to allow their life experiences to be threatened by other cultures.
This demonic spirit is incredibly crafty. The call of Christianity is to die for others and the call of this demonic spirit is for others to die for us.
Of course, the act of murder isn’t the strategy of choice for those who are threatened in the church—or is it?
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Jesus equates anger to murder. In the church the manifestation of anger usually results in gossip, which is a deeply destructive spirit. Gossip results in dark hearts manifesting outwardly against those who threaten them. The same accusation that the abortionists hurl are used by the uncrucified, angry Christians—”You are threatening my freedom and my rights!”
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. MARGARET SANGER, Woman and the New Race
When we become Christians we gain freedom but we lose our freedoms.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) 16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
It’s also possible to take on the offense of others. We have to be very careful! If we allow others who have had their own personal experiences threatened to lure us into a inappropriately merciful, sympathetic position, we are at great risk of taking on their offense and embracing anger against the threatening person. We saw Absalom do this as he took on the offense of others who didn’t get what they wanted out of King David.
Again, we are to expect a sharp sword, a high bar, a challenging life and a call to die to everything, including our own opinions, for the sake of others.
The spirit of abortion fights for personal rights no matter what the cost to others is. It resists the preaching of the cross with a vengeance. The cross threatens our very life!
Repentance must hit our churches. We have to return to the cross and refuse to buy into the demand for messages that tickle our ears. It’s time to once again be OK with deep inspection of the Lord into our hearts.
It’s this type of life that is a manifestation of deep, selfless love. This love will result in a great authority against the mission of murder against the millions of precious babies.
If we embrace the same self-centered spirit that drives the abortionists while at the same time crying out against them, we will be powerless. But, if die to self we will have the authority to defeat the spirit of abortion, murder and death that has overrun our nation.
Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. –John G. Lake
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. –D.A. Carson
It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God's truth and remain in sin.– Oswald Chambers
First—Let’s take a Revival Team of fiery, prophetic people to three upcoming ministry events! Join us THIS WEEK!
Also, this Sunday, June 27th at 10:30am I’ll be at Revival Nation Church in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Check them out at www.revivalnation.com.
Are you in the Detroit area? I’m boldly casting the vision for a mass gathering of likeminded, hungry and passionate people at Revival Church every Sunday evening at 6pm.
Simply, we need you! We’re looking for an expectant people to rise up and lock arms with the rest of us at Revival Church as we intentionally and strategically prepare for the upcoming outpouring in Detroit. If you can make a commitment to be with us every Sunday night, I’m fully confident your life will take a turn you never thought possible!
Last night I taught on part two of a message on Jonah. This one is titled A Fish, a Worm and a Wind.
Two key points were addressed:
- There is a ‘spirit of Jonah’ that’s rising up in the religious world right now. It’s a prophetic movement of tearing down men and women of God due to slight doctrinal differences, or due to their vindictive and proud disposition and desire to see fallible people renounced and eliminated from ministry.
- Jonah was known to be an emotional wreck. He went from gladness to depression in record time. Do you find yourself angry or depressed or sad often? You may find freedom as you repent of the same issues that drove Jonah.
Head on over to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching and listen now.
I got great feedback last week when I included my notes, so here are the notes for last nights teaching:
A Fish, a Worm and a Wind
a. Jonah 2:10 (ESV) And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
i. If anybody in history should have understood mercy and grace, it’s Jonah.
ii. Jonah was a prophet of God, a minister, someone who had a massive life mission to change the world.
1. He was a highly esteemed Prophet of Israel around 786BC.
2. However, he had serious shortcomings.
3. He was vindictive and radically exclusive.
4. Nineveh was a bitter enemy of Israel.
5. He could be compared to the elder brother of the prodigal son who was angered at the father’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance of his long lost son.
iii. Last week I mentioned the importance of not living a Jonah 3:1 life:
1. Jonah 3:1 (ESV) Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…
2. However, you would think that Jonah, after his tragic error of disobedience, would understand the deep love and grace of God.
3. Let’s read his prayer from the belly of the fish that God appointed to deal with Jonah:
4. Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV) 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
iv. Jonah was saved by God’s mercy and in God’s grace he delivered the prophetic message he was born for.
1. It’s been said that mercy is God’s unmerited favor. Grace is God’s empowering.
2. A fallen minister went through God’s microwaved restoration process and was immediately back in the ministry. This still flawed man of God was called on to save an entire city. God’s grace was with him!
3. Jonah 3:10 (ESV) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
4. Jonah was furious!
5. Jonah 4:1 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
6. If we are driven by grace, we will easily love and honor people. Our passion will be their life, not our life.
7. Jonah had a certain right to be angry. After all, he loved truth and was intent in seeing everything unholy and false destroyed. His problem though was simple. His love of truth that resulted in vindictiveness against people clearly showed that his revelation of truth was flawed.
8. However, Jonah had so much hatred for the Assyrians for their past oppression of his people that he could not rejoice over their
v. Check out what he says in chapter 4 verse 2!
1. Jonah 4:2 (ESV) And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
2. Wow! That is an insane verse! We see more clearly now why he ended up in the belly of a fish. It wasn’t because he was scared of prophesying in Nineveh. It wasn’t because it was inconvenient. It was because he knew God was full of grace and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love! He knew God’s love would prevail instead of judgment!
3. Matthew Henry- There appeared in Jonah remains of a proud, uncharitable spirit; and that he neither expected nor desired the welfare of the Ninevites, but had only come to declare and witness their destruction.
4. Jonah 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5. He would rather die than partake in the grace and mercy of God.
a. We see a movement today that has this unhealthy spirit of Jonah fueling it.
b. We have to be careful not to be so focused on our righteousness and other’s failures, we can’t trumpet truth in such a way that it results in the destruction of others as it would be reveal an inaccurate revelation of truth.
vi. Jonah finds himself outside of God’s grace yet again.
1. He was known to have emotional mood swings—he was depressed yet again.
2. Heaviness, depression and anger can be an indicator that we are living outside of God’s grace, and God will do much to draw us back in.
3. We can’t presume to be delivered from depression without repentance and release of the ideals that put us there.
4. Check out what Jonah did.
5. Jonah 4:5 (ESV) Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.
6. Jonah reverted to the demeanor of a five-year-old.
7. He built a fort and pouted.
vii. So, what did God do? Did he send a wise man of God to counsel him? Did he reason with him? Nope. Jonah should know that God would do something bizarre. He should have remembered that God had previously appointed a fish to deal with his issues.
1. Jonah 1:17 (ESV) And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
viii. Now, in Jonah’s even more ridiculous situation, God appoints a wise and mighty plant.
1. This verse is hilarious:
2. Jonah 4:6 (ESV) Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.
3. Yeah! A plant! This emotionally unbalanced prophet went from depression to being exceedingly glad in a moment.
4. However, his joy is rooted in selfishness. He was rejoicing over his own comfort as he sat overlooking a city that he wished God would change his mind again and annihilate.
5. Now, God’s sense of humor in Jonah’s embarrassing state wasn’t done.
6. Jonah 4:7 (ESV) But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.
7. Psyche! Just kidding! No comfort for you! You big baby!
8. God wasn’t done.
9. Jonah 4:8 (ESV) When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
a. Common to the Middle East, the wind was a dust-laden, furnace-like blast of heat that parches the body by evaporating perspiration.
b. He wanted to die because of this worm and wind. His own shelter couldn’t even comfort him!
10. Jonah 4:9 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
a. His lack of mercy and grace resulted in deep depression from a worm and a wind.
b. But God caused him to deeply care for the plant. He loved the plant. He was mad at the worm and the wind and the beating down sun for killing his plant.
c. Are you in that place? Are you continually depressed or angry because of seeming ridiculous reasons?
d. Do you blame others for your condition? If so, listen closely, it’s possible evidence that you are operating in an unhealthy spirit of Jonah. That heart of blame is an indicator that we expect to be served instead of to serve.
e. Of course, God used this lesson to show how much God loved Ninevah.
11. Jonah 4:10-11 (ESV) 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
a. Bachman-the right hand is the symbol of the good realm, the hand that symbolizes power and righteousness. The left hand, by contrast, is the symbol of evil, the hand used to curse and used to clean oneself. Each realm is opposite to each other and
should not be mixed. So when it is said that Nineveh cannot tell their right hand from their left, it is saying that they have no discernment, no knowledge of ethics or the basics of life (Bachmann 54).
b. The last few words, “and much cattle” were intentional to display how far God’s grace extends.
c. The animals were included in the king’s decree for repentance in chapter 3.
d. Our amazing God won in dramatic fashion. His mercy and grace saved and entire city of precious people, AND he lovingly took Jonah by the hand and helped him understand God’s heart.
II. The Takeaway
a. If we are driven by selfishness, a religious spirit that embraces truth but despises people or by pride and selfish ambition, we can expect God to appoint a fish, a worm and a wind to our situation.
Having each faced personal loss, a group of strangers gathers at a cemetery for support. The bestowment of several miraculous gifts brings resolution, and a mysterious inscription holds the ultimate key to healing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AMY BURTON and her husband, John, are accomplished authors and public speakers. Amy serves as an instructor at a pregnancy center in Detroit. She and John founded Revolution House of Prayer in 2001 and currently lead Revival Church. They live in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan with their three boys.
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