Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.
Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.
Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.
When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.
The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)
DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)
The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.
We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.
Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.
Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.
Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.
WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.
We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.
Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?
Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.
The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.
When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:
22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)
TAKE A BREAK
As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.
They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.
Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.
I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.
The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.
Bizarre, supernatural manifestations should be normal in the church. What happened?
When given the choice between hearing another sermon and witnessing invisible and very active demons being cast out of a precious soul, I'm buying the ticket to the deliverance. Why then, if deliverance is even allowed at all, is it so often stopped so they can escort the individual into a back room somewhere? Today's church needs to see the power of the Holy Spirit overcoming the power of the enemy in people's lives right before their eyes!
Here's a podcast on this topic:
In fact, supernatural manifestations are consistently shut down as irritations or some sort of spiritual disorder. Manifestations should be expected, not avoided. We must allow our all-powerful God to interact with the people. When such a mighty force touches weak, finite humans, it's simply impossible to maintain our casual or dignified disposition. We will react with shock, awe and wonder!
THIS REACHES BEYOND SIMPLE SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS
Too often the Western church is functioning in the safe, natural, middle ground, and the demons remain in hiding, very active and unconcerned about any Christian interference. There is no threat.
However, when a deeply determined and wildly prophetic people who are devoted to intercession and warfare unite, the unseen world starts to shake under the weight of their authority.
When people like this advance together, they are met with dramatic and often bizarre supernatural reactions. Demons and angels engage and respond, and this will be easily discerned by men and women of God who live their lives in the spiritual realm. The invisible realm becomes exposed.
We must have mature warriors who understand the realm of the invisible and who function in great authority giving key leadership in our churches. It's laughable to think that a church is truly having impact if the enemy isn't provoked and if the Holy Spirit isn't manifesting.
A DEMONIC COMMAND CENTER IN MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
I'm astonished at how often Christians live in disbelief (or disinterest) regarding the demonic world. The story I'm about to share can easily be dismissed as too extreme. They'd prefer to climb back under their safe, comfy blanket and deny reality—all while the demonic army gains strength and momentum. Hiding under the blankets or sticking your head in the sand is no strategy against such a formidable force.
The Lord had revealed to me that Manitou Springs was a demonic communication center, a command center, much like NORAD, which was an active center of defense for our nation for years just a few miles from our town at the base of Pikes Peak. Further, it was expressed that Manitou Springs, at the base of America's mountain, was called to be an angelic command center of revival for the nation. We had a lot of work to do. A complete take-over and shift in authority must occur.
My lead intercessors and I were prayer walking through the streets of Manitou Springs, Colorado several years ago. This city is well known for it's occult roots. Anton LaVey, who wrote the Satanic bible, lived there. Witchcraft is rampant and homosexuality and liberal ideals promoted. In fact, the pastor of the city at the time led a profoundly heretical church.
During this particular prayer walk, which was one of hundreds, we were interceding on the grounds of a very old Episcopal church property. Suddenly, I saw a dark entity, a hooded creature. I told my intercessory friends, Miles and Jodi, about the encounter and we quickly moved closer to the church building where this demon was seen (and had since ducked into hiding).
It's extremely important that we are all prophetic people, able to hear God's voice very clearly. If we don't, we can miss some life altering instructions and revelations. What God said next was absolutely critical for the advance of the Kingdom in this dark city.
God told us the demon was a messenger on assignment, and that he was there to receive the keys of authority to the city. He was to transport them to his leaders. Understand, the enemy is granted great authority to advance its agenda when humans are in agreement. It gives power to their assignments. God revealed this particular messenger, on a very important mission, was fully surprised to see Spirit-filled children of God at his rendezvous point. It was even more shocked that I saw it. We prayed, seeking instructions on how to deal with this situation. God told us to intercept the keys. The authority in Manitou Springs was being transferred that day in surprise fashion.
AN ASSIGNMENT DEEP INSIDE THE EARTH
Very shortly after this transfer of authority I, along with very experienced and high ranking intercessors from the surrounding states gathered together for a prayer assignment in Manitou Springs. After some dramatic prophetic experiences that day, we capped it off with our primary assignment deep within a cave system.
The intercessors knew Manitou had very evil roots and a wicked history, and they wanted to gain spiritual intelligence so they could devise a strategy. As we were all about to enter the cave, the regional intercessory leader, who was a little older than the rest of us, told me she wouldn't be going into the cave. She would stay back and cover us in prayer. She then privately gave me an assignment: determine whether the deep part of the cave where we were going to end up was a demonic command center.
I eagerly accepted the challenge and then I, along with the rest of the team, started our journey into the depths. As I was walking deeper into the cave, I began to understand the severity of the assignment. I certainly didn't want to presume anything. I didn't want to guess. I needed to hear from God clearly about whether our final destination was in fact a center of demonic activity that was focused on destroying the people of Manitou Springs and the nation, or not.
When we finally entered the furthest room in the cave system, I was absolutely stunned at what I was experiencing. All I could think was, “The Holy Spirit isn't welcome here.” It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The void created by the absence of God's manifest presence was something I never want to feel again. It felt like Hell without the fire and torment, and I can't imagine spending even a few seconds in there. However, I was on assignment and I had to deal with this supernatural reality. I couldn't leave. We stopped and turned off our lights and began to pray. It was perfectly dark.
I hit my knees, trembling, wondering what was going to happen and what God wanted us to do. In the spirit, I saw the earth open underneath me. A massive entity emerged from the depths. This was a portal between the demonic realm and the land of the living. I did in fact discover a demonic command center.
I was experiencing intercession unlike any time in my life. It's impossible to describe the experience. I was beyond overwhelmed, shaking, undone, disturbed.
It was confirmed that the determined agreement of humans in Manitou Springs with the Satanic realm was extremely strong, and demons emerged from the depths to give instructions to people and to receive information from them. These were messenger demons much like the one I experienced on my prayer walk by the Episcopal church.
Wait! The Episcopal church!
God reminded me of the encounter I had there. As this massive portal was opened up under my feet, it was clear what I was to do. I had taken the keys of authority. I had them! I was to use this new found authority to shut this portal down. Lock it up. Seal it shut. Take dominion.
I shared all of this revelation, in that pitch dark cave, with the other prophetic intercessors, and they all immediately agreed that I was discerning everything correctly. In that evil place where the Holy Spirit wasn't welcome, I felt a mighty shift. The anointing of the Holy Spirit filled me and I commanded, in the authority of Jesus Christ, that the enemy's assignment was over and that the portal must shut. We all roared and groaned in the Spirit, prayed with power, declared truth of the Word and successfully fulfilled our mandate.
As we emerged from the cave, the faithful general in the faith who remained behind to pray had a smile on her face. She asked me, “Well, was it?” I said, “Yes!” I went on to explain what happened. She nodded her head and told me that God revealed the same thing to her as she was praying.
Understand, this never could have happened if we didn't embrace the wild and bizarre supernatural realities that are all around us.
In fact, a secular drama company from Broadway in New York City put this experience and others into a production and toured it from Washington D.C to New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles. My prophetic decrees, powerful personal freedom and other supernatural stories from our ministry were depicted on stage in front of thousands of mostly liberal, atheistic people who were in a prime position to meet Jesus!
Isn't it amazing how God works when we start moving in the supernatural, spiritual realm?
A TEAR JERKING EMAIL
This assignment in the cave along with many others over several years (some even more dramatic than this one) resulted in powerful breakthrough.
This week, I received an email that moved me to tears. You see, we passed the baton to others as we eventually moved out of Manitou Springs. This message shows how much prayer, the prophetic, endurance and obedience can do to the enemy's camp. I pray this encourages you to allow God to move exactly as he wants, to invade the realm of wickedness with authority, to expect supernatural manifestations and to contend for freedom, even if you don't see the results on our watch.
I love getting your emails – they are so challenging and so good. Thank you for what you do!
I’m a huge believer in giving credit where it’s due – and since you were such a HUGE part of our transition and journey to Manitou, as David and I are a week away from transitionIng our, I wanted to give you an update – because you sowed seeds for so many years and made this ground so fertile.
You wouldn’t recognize Manitou today! It’s becoming a beautiful community – restoration taking place in the supernatural and in the natural. Houses and buildings being restored and families moving in seeking community.
We’ve prayed over every inch of this city. The bridge over rainbow falls was restored, and the day it reopened, we prayed over it as a city gate and renamed “beautiful” at the Lord’s prompting. The same weekend, we dedicated the old Masonic lodge as the new worship space for new life Manitou – cleansed the ground, and claimed that gate as well.
The mineral springs by the Loop was recently refaced, and, “coincidentally,” a new life member was contracted to do the work. He wrote our prophetic passage for Manitou on the back of each rock – Isaiah 41:17-20 – “the poor and needy are searching for water where there is none, and I THE LORD will answer them…” and now scripture is hidden in one of the central fountains in Manitou. It’s our little secret. 🙂
Not long after that, a sign that had been decades missing from the rainbow falls bridge was replaced. It says “Manitou Springs – healing waters.”
New Life Manitou has been a full-fledged, weekly church for 3 years now. We beat the odds! It’s a thriving community of believers serving the city and accepted as part of the community. We’re meeting in the renovated (and very well-cleansed!) Masonic lodge on El Paso and running around 150 each Sunday. Every week, it seems, a new family shows up saying they just felt called to Manitou. We’re literally the only evangelical church here – but Manitou has embraced and not just tolerated us.
Hiawatha Gardens, where you guys met for the HOP, is being restored. Interestingly, your banner is still hanging on the back door – even though they’ve been in there cleaning and renovating. There sign remains. Just a reminder of your mark on this community.
David and I have been here for 4 years, and now we’re being called away. My heart is so torn – I have grown to adore this town and its people – our neighbors who are atheists and lesbians and agnostics who we are leaving we now have to entrust to Jesus. We’re headed back to San Antonio to pastor a church there. I can’t help but think of your story of leaving and how it must have been so bittersweet for you and your family.
We have certainly felt the weight of living here – the call and yet the resistance and pressure – and yet the yearning to see more of God’s movement, knowing that you wouldn’t be here to see the completion firsthand.
Because of that, I wanted to tell you again that your hard work and toil and trials and prayer and faithfulness did not go unseen, unnoticed, or unfruitful. Your obedience here in Manitou for all those years paved the way for what is happening now and for the restoration and revival that is happening here in Manitou. I know from firsthand experience that it wasn’t easy and that you suffered for the call. But your legacy lives on here. Your faithfulness and intercession and prophetic words spoken over this city tore down strongholds and softened hearts. You pastored this city so well. Well done, good and faithful servant.
And thank you for giving us so much insight and comfort 4 years ago when we were so freaked out about moving here. Thank you for being the forerunner and for giving us the courage to carry the torch. Thank you for introducing us to Miles and Jodi, who passed the prophetic torch to us. I still have the house of prayer banner they gave us and still weep at the thought that our weekly prayer meetings were held in the very same room as your early prayer meetings were held.
God has such a heart for this place, and my heart breaks to leave it – We have wept over it, loved it, and learned so much in our time here – but our time is done and we did what we came to do – 4 years of so much joy, so much travail, so much beauty. And you were such a huge part – so thank you so much for your labor, John. You are a giant in the kingdom, and I just wanted to let you know that we recognize your sacrifices and work here. It lives on and you are part of a very beautiful story that God is writing in Manitou Springs.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Father is well pleased.
Sarah and David
I cried tears of joy.
What about the “freaky stuff?” How concerning is it when supernatural manifestations are rare in the church today?
My four-year-old daughter Eva just said something as I’m sitting here writing this article at a Starbucks in Branson, Missouri. While scanning through cartoons to watch on Netflix on her tablet, she zeroed in on one.
“I want to watch this one. But I don't. It's freaky and I love freaky stuff. But I also hate freaky stuff.”
I just had to laugh. In a way, that might sum up the tension of the Christian heart. Discerning good and evil is important for all of us. I’m proud of Eva at her young age!
Further, from an entirely different angle, it may also be the way many people think about the supernatural. Church experiences widely range from absolutely stoic and dead to bizarre and flamboyant. Freaky.
I think there are many mildly hungry yet cautious Christians out there in the middle who are intrigued by the “freaky stuff” but, then again, are tired of the ridiculous manifestations in many churches that aren’t Spirit-driven at all. It's just people acting strange in the name of freedom. Too often, they default to calm and safe instead of wild and risky. Many pastors fall into this category as well.
America needs to take a bold, confident step toward wild and risky. We need the freaky stuff in the church to emerge as it did at Azusa.
On Friday evening, March 1, His mighty power came over me, until I jerked and quaked under it for about three hours. It was strange and wonderful and yet glorious. He worked my whole body, one section at a time, first my arms, then my limbs, then my body, then my head, them my face, then my chin, and finally at 1 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 2, after being under the power for three hours, He finished the work on my vocal organs, and spoke through me in unknown tongues. (http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Azusa-Street.html)
Another local paper reporter in September 1906 described the happenings at Azusa with the following words:
…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa_Street_Revival)
WE NEED MORE THAN EXPLOSIVE CHURCH SERVICES
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, 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)
It’s true that I firmly believe we need a massive shift toward “groaning churches” with atmospheres of searing hot intercession that cause the building to shake. I’ve been in many, but nowhere near enough, such services that have left me in tears, trembling and under the influence of fire, drunk on something out of this world. The supernatural moments, in very legitimate ways, forever marked my life and my relationship with Jesus. When you add authentic experience to life-changing truth, you can’t help but be transformed from someone who is simply “devoted to Jesus” to someone who is raging in love, undone, undignified and suddenly alien. Everything changes through authentic encounter with Jesus. Nobody can remain the same.
Too often we presume we can achieve such an electric atmosphere in our church services through charisma, exuberance and a decent dose of exciting worship and expressive prayer. This is common in your more “alive” churches. People are just deep and hungry enough to “jump a little higher than before,” as the song goes (which, at some point becomes humanly impossible. Insert grinning emoji here.).
The point I’m making is this: It takes a leadership team and a zealous people who are setting a culture of deep and extreme prayer, sharp spiritual discernment, and who are wildly prophetic to experience breakthrough into the supernatural.
Natural and predictable church services are the result of spiritually lazy and naturally minded people who are not moving into the realm of the invisible.
FREAKY STUFF WILL SET THE STAGE
My life in ministry has been shaped by unusual and powerful supernatural conflicts and encounters. I say that not because it’s really cool, but because I’m really dumbfounded. A simple man praying fervent prayers has somehow triggered invisible entities into manifesting in the natural. As I started witnessing more and more, I began to understand how absolutely critical it was to live, walk, breathe and legislate in the Spirit—especially for those engaging in a dark world with an apostolic assignment.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV)
How many Christians are actually confronting evil forces as a part of their ministry strategy? This takes way, way more than simple prayers. We must go deeper than ever. When we do, the fight is on and it will absolutely manifest in the natural realm. Get ready for some wild church services!
Definition of Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience; a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.
Check out this breakdown of a powerful passage of Scripture:
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) through his Spirit (PNEUMA: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT) in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend (SEIZE, POSSESS, APPREHEND) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (DOESN’T EXIST IN THE VISIBLE REALM, OR EVEN IN THE DREAM REALM), that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (WOW! FILLED, FULLNESS OF GOD!) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Paul was praying for the Ephesians to be awakened to the reality of the power that God has given them. Growing in that revelation is key for anybody assigned to a church (that’s all of us). We must know our assignment and we must be equipped to conquer via the Spirit of God. When we are assigned by God in a region, as an authority, we have the power and right to give orders, to enforce obedience in the spiritual realm. This is a governmental, supernatural call.
One key principle I discovered years ago was invaluable. God will establish authority in regions, and it’s absolutely mandatory that those governing leaders learn how to discern in the spirit and conduct business in the spiritual realm.
Shortly after my wife Amy and I planted Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado, we started experiencing some powerful and revealing things. Our primary ministry method was prophetic intercession. We’d prayer walk that quirky town day after day. We’d receive fresh prophetic revelation and instructions by the Holy Spirit. After it was all said and done, I bet those streets had been prayer walked thousands of times. One particular target of our prayer was a specific church, the largest of five churches in Manitou Springs. This church was part of an apostate denomination and led by a man many considered, including the police department and City Hall, to be the pastor of the city. This man admitted to someone in my church that there was no Hell and demons didn’t exist. He refused to participate in a ministry alliance in the town because he didn’t want to offend his “pagan and Muslim brethren.” Clearly, this individual walked in unholy authority and had significant influence in the spirit in Manitou Springs, and that reality demanded a confrontation.
Our young family moved into an old home in Manitou Springs near the beginning of our ministry time there. Instantly I started discerning something very heavy. Every morning I’d wake up with a distinct “taste” or feeling in my spirit. It was demonic, disorienting and honestly a bit debilitating. Strangely, I couldn’t pray it off or shake it off, but as the day wore on, it would dissipate. This happened every day.
Some time went by, and I received an invitation to meet the pastor of the apostate church. The church building was just beyond the back yard of our house, so I walked there one afternoon for our meeting. The heavy oppression that I woke up with every day had worn off that by then and I was eager to connect with this city leader. I wasn't prepared for what was about to happen. The moment I walked through the doorway of the church, the EXACT same taste, the same distinctive oppression that I had experienced for so long every single morning, slammed me with force. I pulled myself together, put a smile on my face and shook hands with the pastor. We sat down and engaged in small talk. I mentioned to him that their church was very close to my house. He asked me to describe the house. I told him what it looked like and where it was located. We then compared notes on what it looked like inside. What he then said rocked me. “Oh, yes! My family and I lived there for years!”
I didn’t have to be a math genius to put two and two together. The demonic anointing the pastor walked in lingered. I bet those demons were quite surprised when a man of God on assignment moved in. After that fateful meeting with the pastor of the city, the oppression stopped. God communicated what I needed to understand. From that point on I was able to govern in the Spirit with precision. The spirits that were anointing that man’s “ministry” were uncovered.
Rumor has it that past city officials have also lived in that house. It was clear that, for whatever reason, authorities had lived there and I needed to consider what my apostolic, governmental responsibility was. I sensed in the Spirit a baton had been passed to me and our team. That revelation was invaluable as I truly understood God had our back and we could be confident in our advance.
WE CANNOT SURVIVE AS A CHURCH WITHOUT THE SUPERNATURAL
From that time, our prayer and apostolic strength increased. We would pray on the top of Pikes Peak and in caves under the earth. Many undeniable supernatural happenings would stun us time and again. We’d confront witchcraft and watch God work wonders. Demons would come out in the middle of services leaving visitors wide eyed. One deeply resistant and demonized young man vomited in the parking lot the moment we were praying for him with his girlfriend in the church. Moving in authority brings a shift to the atmosphere as demons can’t help but respond in obedience.
And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” Luke 4:36
Is our ministry causing people to be amazed? If not, go deep into the spirit and, as it happened at Azusa, you won’t be able to stop the presses. Word will get out and the amazement and mocking will both commence! Some will run to your church. Many will flee.
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:12-13 (ESV)
The message I’m attempting to communicate is that we must go extremely deep behind the scenes. We have to stand in our authority. We must learn how to decree and declare and legislate in the Spirit. Leave the prayer lists and prayer topics behind. Defer to tongues and prophetic intercession when you don’t have a theme to focus on. Let revelation drive your prayer meetings. Lean not on your own understanding.
As I look back at my time in Manitou Springs I know it would have been impossible to break through and do what we were called to do without constant prayer meetings, prayer walks, engaging the enemy, moving in the Spirit, stimulating a prophetic culture, having dreams and visions and moving in great authority.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
My recommendation is to avoid trying to manufacture a vibrant atmosphere. Many worship teams and charismatic preachers are very skilled at this, but those who are sharp spiritually can see right through it. Let’s just stop the production and go deep Monday through Saturday and come into our Sunday services rocked and shocked by the revelation of Jesus and the spiritual battle we’ve run to. Live a life that provokes demons and angels. Expect the supernatural to happen. Shake Heaven and Hell. Enlist people who know how to groan and intercede night and day. When that happens, the lid will blow off our Sunday meetings. Whatever you do, DON’T PUT THE LID BACK ON! Let the supernatural scare away the resistant, awaken the sleepers and activate the remnant!
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. John 6:66 (ESV)
If you don’t stand in your authority, how will the church advance? If you don’t pray non-stop, how will you have strength and insight to advance against witchcraft and all that the enemy is bringing against you? Most curses and strategies that witches and others are targeting local churches with go unnoticed. People have no idea there are demonic beings wrapping their arms around the congregation like a vice.
I could share story after story of shocking and bizarre and absolutely critical encounters in the invisible realm we’ve had over the years. We must learn how to see in the Spirit. What is happening? How should we contend in prayer?
The American Spirit-filled church simply isn’t Spirit-filled enough. We are barely touching the surface. We are too concerned with keeping the visitors. A church full of those who would be scared away if God showed up is a church full of false-positives. Those particular people in the pews may very well not even be saved. We can’t just have happy services with laughing and dancing and handshakes and presume all is well. There is warfare raging and spiritual forces to be exposed, confronted and taken out.
I’ve said many times, I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. Supernatural, messy services that break human control must come. The only way human control releases is if those humans encounter God day after day. God has to convince them.
When we dig deep and uncover the demonic roots in our regions, and invade the darkness, and refuse to ask the Holy Spirit to “settle down,” the church will experience powerful advance.
It’s time for the freaky stuff to return to the church.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (ESV)
If Jesus isn’t concerned or taking action, the next move is ours.
My pastor delivered a powerful sermon this morning here in my home town of Branson, Missouri. This article, while different than what I heard this morning, is a result of God’s anointing on his life and on the teaching he brought.
A NEW PRAYER STRATEGY WILL SET YOU FREE
“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40 (ESV)
When I consider going to God with my issues, concerns, troubles, needs and other personal trials, I first ask myself a question. Is God going to respond to me by asking, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” It’s quite possible that I should not bring my issue to God at all.
I realize that God loves it when we pray, and there are many types and ways to pray that are applicable for various situations, but I have learned to consider my heart condition and motive behind the prayer. Both matter.
It’s extremely easy to function from a place of doubt when we consult with God. It’s common, for example, to doubt our needs will be met, and this can manifest through prayer, hoping that God does something to remedy our situation. While it’s good to have any sort of conversation with God, we also need to know that his response will be tied closely to our faith that’s connected to our prayer.
Let’s look at the entirety of the well known passage in Mark chapter four:
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)
DON’T BOTHER JESUS
The obvious thing for Christians to do when in a time of trouble is to go to God. I want to propose you may have more success at times by not going to God.
If you are in relationship with him, and are living a life of overcoming faith, and you know your authority, it’s not necessary to have a consultation with God every time you have to make a decision or every time the going gets tough.
Quite often, the correct step is to refuse to bother Jesus. He was asleep on the boat in the midst of the storm—and he should have been left alone.
This principle is true for us today as well.
Many of us have a habit of attempting to shake God awake to our situation, and instead of him resolving the problem, he asks, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
The correct thing to do would then be to resolve the situation ourselves!
WHEN GOD SLEEPS
In the midst of storms, or at the point of decision, God may “sleep” (be unresponsive to our petitions) for at least a couple of reasons:
- The storm or situation needs to play out. Possibly God is using the situation to help us reach our destination. The disciples were attempting to go across to the other side, and though the storm was threatening, was it possible that the winds would assist them in their journey? Maybe.
- We are to stop the storm or make the decision ourselves. This is the scenario more often than we realize. It’s extremely common for my wife and me to make decisions, to power through obstacles and deal with attack without nervously yelling for Jesus to wake up and come to the rescue. We’ve been granted authority to bring the resolution ourselves. Don’t forget, this is only possible since we are in relationship with Jesus and we are submitted to his plan for our lives. It’s possible that the disciples could have silenced the storm themselves. Jesus’ stern reaction to them awakening him revealed that they needed to relax and know that all will be well, whether they rode the storm out or commanded it to end.
But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:6-8
The disciples were afraid. They doubted. They were blown and tossed by the wind and the waves. If they would have responded in faith, the wind and the waves would have been under their command and would have either settled down or carried them exactly where they needed to go—to the other side.
WHO THEN IS THIS?
“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Instead of being asked, “Why are you so afraid,” people will be asking about us, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
The passage indicates that there were other boats in the storm as well. The story most probably should have been quite different. With Jesus still asleep, those on the other boats would have pointed to the disciples and fearfully and joyfully asked with great passion, “Who then is this!”
The answer would have been remarkable as they directed everyone’s attention to a sleeping savior. Jesus would receive all the glory and his power would have been undeniable—calming the storm as he slept, manifesting his plan through the authority of his followers.
KNOWING OUR AUTHORITY IS CRITICAL
It’s important that I make it doubly clear that I in no way am attempting to say we are to advance without Jesus or without living a life of fervent prayer. We must be so intimately connected to Jesus on a continual basis, that our prayer shifts from mostly needy, clueless and concerned to mostly relational. We can pray in the Spirit, make decrees and declarations and legislate from a place of great strength and spiritual authority because of our life of relational prayer and intercession.
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Luke 9:1-2
When casting out demons or praying for the sick, we never have to go to God petitioning for him to deliver the oppressed or make the sick whole. Why? We can let God “sleep” and do it ourselves! We are to cast the demons out. We are to heal the sick.
TWISTED AND AFRAID
And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Matthew 17:14-18 (ESV)
In the above passage, Jesus should not have been disturbed. His disciples should have handled the situation themselves, but they couldn’t. They didn’t have faith (even the faith the size of a mustard seed). The result? Jesus called them twisted!
Not only don’t I want God to respond to my prayer by asking why I’m afraid and why I have no faith, but I really don’t want him calling me twisted!
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:17-19
We have been given authority over all the power of the enemy! Nothing shall hurt us! No storm is powerful enough! We can let Jesus sleep as we administer his truth and power in the world.
Instead of being called twisted and afraid, this generation will be looking on from their boats and ask, “Who then is this?”
God is ready to promote you from a life of struggle to a life of power, peace, strength, confidence and breakthrough!
Jesus might be sleeping, but he’s not disconnected. He’s waiting for you to manifest his peace and his power as you annihilate obstacles, calm waves, move mountains, heal the sick and set the captives free!
The chaos that erupted on a United Airlines flight yesterday should never have happened.
I was in the vicinity of two unfortunate United Airline situations over the past week.
First, I was on my way to preach at the Strike The Match Conference in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada last Thursday. My flight from Chicago to Toronto was delayed most probably due to a fake bomb threat on a Toronto to Chicago flight earlier in the day.
Second, I was at O’Hare International Airport again, this time on my way back from the conference yesterday (which, by the way, was an electric and supernatural explosion of Holy Spirit power!) —the same day passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight.
The police never should have been called. David never should have been dragged off the airplane. He never should have been bloodied or knocked unconscious. This never should have become a trending story on social media.
David Dao should have obeyed the directive to walk off the plane.
I have to admit, I am disturbed at the number of Christians who are knee-jerk reacting against United Airlines and in favor of the unruly passenger. While the police may have possibly employed regrettable actions, the airline was acting within their rights, just as they do many times a day in similar situations. Submission to authority is an elementary level truth for Believers. David Dao, and every one of the nearly one billion air travelers in the United States agree to very clear, non-negotiable terms when they buy their ticket. The Contract of Carriage allows airlines to remove and rebook passengers.
Complaining, refusing to comply and rejecting the directives of our authorities is ungodly behavior. Period. David may or may not be a Believer, but Christians, you should know better.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world… (Phil 2:14-15)
And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. (Num 11:11)
MY UNITED AIRLINES EXPERIENCE YESTERDAY
Everybody who travels by air is well aware of the fact that there is a chance you won't make it on time. My trip to Canada and back was negatively impacted both directions. I was exhausted in both instances and easily could have been grumpy and unreasonable with the decision makers who were putting stress on my journey.
Two flights were delayed on the way to Canada and air traffic control issues forced the cancelation of my flight from Chicago to home last night. I missed my daughter's birthday because of it. Plus, the airline only paid half of my hotel. I'm out at least $160 for hotel, food, toiletries, etc. Guess what? That's life folks! I wasn't pounding my fist on the United Airlines customer service counter (after waiting in line for an hour) demanding better treatment. I didn't strong-arm them into finding my luggage, that was unnecessarily checked through to my final destination at the gate by the way, so I could have clean clothes to wear today. I was tired, probably a little smelly and ready to go home. Instead I emptied my wallet because of no fault of my own, checked into a hotel somewhere in Chicago, slept just a little, woke up early, wore the same smelly clothes today, and finally flew home.
How sad of a story that is, right? You have to be kidding. That’s simply called travel.
Come on people. It's not all about us. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Yes, the man in Chicago who refused to deplane was extremely in the wrong.
It’s our job as lights in a dark world to smile and reveal the life and love of Jesus in challenging and unfair situations and not grumble and demand our rights to be met!
Ironically, just as I emerged from the jet bridge in Springfield, Missouri, I saw the group of people waiting to board the plane for their own flight. The attendant said, “This flight is overbooked and we are looking for volunteers to surrender their seats.” I’m sure those who either volunteered or were forced to give up their seats acted a lot more maturely and appropriately than the gentleman did yesterday.
THE LOST ART OF SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Rom 13:3-5)
We aren’t only to submit to authority that is fair or right. We don’t turn our submission on and off based on our own analysis of the situation. We should have no fear of authority, of pastors, of leaders, of the police, if we are doing what is right.
Regardless of whether David Dao was treated properly or not, he disobeyed a clear and direct order. He was wrong, no matter how important he believed himself to be. Entitlement must go. Humility and submission to authority must find its way into our independent, narcissistic culture.
As I said above, I’m stunned at the Christians who are instant in their defense and outright celebration of David’s clear indiscretion. In today’s society it seems it’s the authority that’s always the villain. Corporations, pastors, police officers, parents and others are held in suspicion at best and rebelled against without apology at worst.
Airlines absolutely have the right to remove people for any reason. Refusal to comply is against the law. That simply cannot be argued. We are required, per Scripture, to obey. Our supposed ‘rights' are not more important than our responsibility to submit.
God will always support authority that is wrong before he supports one under authority who is right and in rebellion. Those who don't understand this set themselves up for great bitterness both against authority AND God.
We presume God is most interested in right vs. wrong. He is not. He’s interested in our response, our reaction.
It doesn’t matter if United Airlines was wrong (though I personally do not think they were), David’s reaction was unacceptable. The airline had the right to do what they did. They had no obligation to explain themselves. They along with the lawmakers write the rules.
There are many “unfair” rules the flight attendants must enforce on flights. They are irritating. I really don’t think my seat being two inches more upright is really going to save me in an air disaster. However, they are the boss! What they say goes, whether it’s when we can wear headphones, get up to use the restroom or whether we get to fly that day at all. They and ultimately the captain are our authorities in the air. It doesn’t matter if we like the rules or agree with the rules. We simply have to obey the rules. I think introducing “yes sir, yes ma'am, no sir, no ma'am” back into our culture would do us all a lot of good.
FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS
From my Charisma News article False Human Rights Destroying the Church and our Nation:
Today we are absolutely overwhelmed by the constant, self-centered shouts of those who demand that their country—or their church—gives them what they believe is rightfully theirs.
It's a false human rights movement.
The right to abortion. The right for same-sex marriage. The right to be equal. The right to be heard.
It's a sickening, selfish focus that is driven by human desire instead of a willingness to take up our cross and die. How often have people left churches because their supposed rights weren't addressed? How much dissension is in the workplace because people are looked over in favor of another?
I've said it before—today, when people's self-centered pursuits are rejected, they abandon relationships, leave churches and cause division, but when Jesus was rejected, He didn't abandon people. He didn't forsake the church.
An offended people will destroy a nation. A surrendered people will build a nation.
All over social media today I’m reading about who was right and who was wrong. Some are screaming that United Airlines was wrong and that David is the victim.
Friend, it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about our response.
Christians are being tortured, raped and murdered as martyrs all over the world, and we think someone being required to vacate a seat on an airplane is a violation of human rights? We’d have to be sick to think such a thing!
COVENS IN THE CHURCH
From my book on authority, Covens in the Church:
The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.
Freedom from authority is rebellion.
Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
Freedom under authority is liberty.
It must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them. Do we serve from a position of great love, humility, passion and care–or not?
Loving submission to authority is non-negotiable and more important now that it has ever been.
God loves you very much and is capable of protecting you even as He has placed you under the authority of imperfect men and women. Remember, we are not to be self-governing in an attempt to protect ourselves from flawed leaders. That is the wrong response to the problem. Using a spirit of Control to fight a spirit of Control doesn’t work. This is the core idea of the entire book. As we submit to those whom God placed over us, be they good or evil, God will ensure our protection.
We may have to go through difficult situations that seemingly limit us, put our dreams on hold or even violate our pet ideas and opinions. The situations may last years, but we must submit in love without failure! God is able to bring us through!
We never speak against or elevate our own opinions above God’s established authority. Pastors, prophets, apostles, politicians, policemen, bosses, etc. We humbly support them, unless, and only unless, they were to cause us to violate a CLEAR Scriptural truth. That’s it.
It’s important to understand that to submit to God’s appointed leaders in our lives only to the point where we agree with the order is NOT submission at all.
Submission is actually spotlighted when someone honors his or her authority when the order is contrary to their own opinions, experience or position. We can agree with our authority while not agreeing with the order or instruction or position. It is never appropriate to remove ourselves from a position of submission if the order given is inconvenient, bothersome or irritating.
HONOR OF AUTHORITY MUST RETURN—TO THE NATION AND TO THE CHURCH
It’s time to crucify our narcissistic, independent flesh and love and honor—and obey—the authorities God has put in our lives. We don’t have to be afraid. We can be free.
Today there seems to be a new uprising against the establishment, against leadership almost continually.
We can contend for cultural change. In fact, as Kingdom Christians, we have a mandate to do that! But, we do it with intercession, love and honor for our leaders.
God will not affirm those who use control, manipulation, unrighteous anger and an independent spirit to affect change.
Entire movements of zealous intercessors and godly social activists can do wonders in society—as long as their heart is right.
Come on friends, let’s change the world the right way. Let’s go the way of honor. God will have our backs.
Watch: A spirit of independence and a lack of response to leadership will put any hope of revival on a city level at risk.
FOUR FIRES PART 7 – SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Where is our heart in regard to honoring and submitting to human authority? How will we respond when city leaders call the church into a certain direction? Will we be instant in our response or will we maintain control of our own situation and rebel against the mandate?
There is much pastor and leader hatred in the church and this will absolutely affect our ability to see a move of God in a region.
You are sure to be challenged and possibly deeply convicted into freedom as you watch this passionate, heart felt message.
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SPIRITUAL WARFARE THREE PART SERIES BY JOHN BURTON
When we understand our authority, and when we understand that the battle is in the invisible realm, we can have great impact.
The enemy will bring the fight to us whether we want to go to war or not. Our only option is to know who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us and then to enforce the victory of the cross!
You will find yourself encouraged, equipped and joyful as you finally hit the enemy with a supernatural power that will send him fleeing!
Watch today’s video where I deal with the homosexual movement, abortion and why the church has limited impact dealing with those issues.
Why doesn’t the church have authority against the emerging homosexual movement and the abortion movement? It has to do with how the church has been compromised by a focus on self, false human rights, our desires, greed and other selfish focuses.
Watch as I teach about the anointing that Bezalel received to launch the prayer movement, and that was used to fashion a god that gave them the pleasures that they demanded.
The spirit of Absalom: How to respond to betrayal and strategic resistance against the church
The moment you advance with prophetic and apostolic focus is the moment the spirit of Absalom is awakened. That cunning wicked spirit specializes on feeding into the deeply felt frustrations of people whose desires go unmet in the church. Satan is a master at accusation due to the never-ending practice of his craft.
…the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. Revelation 12:10b
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Zechariah 3:1
Satan intercedes “on our behalf” night and day, accusing us before the Lord. This is yet another reason why we must have a day and night prayer movement arise in every city on Earth!
Historically in our ministry it is when we take fervent, strategic intercession to the next level that we see the accuser begin to speak loudly and convincingly to the people who are running the race with us. He preys on those who are growing in their resistance to prayer.
MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
When you take prayer to the next, critical level, you can expect schisms and disruptions to come to your ministry and your life. We have seen it in so many ministries, including our own in a variety of places and in a variety of ways.
I planted and gave leadership to Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado beginning in 2001. We experienced some extremely difficult seasons, each immediately after we shifted the church into a greater prayer focus. We weren’t only praying, but we were developing a prayer culture. Prayer was the main thing, and everything that we did, as the transition happened, was to support that emphasis.
Keep in mind that Manitou Springs is an extremely dark region right at the base of Pikes Peak. One national leader told me he believes it’s the darkest city in the nation. Witchcraft and the occult are extremely intense there, and there were no life-giving churches other than ours and a small Episcopal church that was led by a fiery, Spirit-filled pastor. In fact, I was told that since the mid 1980’s, fourteen churches had started and failed within their first two years.
It was in this environment where we experienced absolutely stunning supernatural manifestations. God was on the move, the enemy was feeling the assault against his kingdom and we had no option but to take prayer to a much higher level. There were many times that we’d take teams of intercessors deep into the cave systems in Manitou Springs, turn out our lights and pray for four to five hours in perfect darkness. I can’t begin to describe how powerful that was! In fact, one extremely significant day we took a prayer journey up to the top of Pikes Peak, and that evening we went into the belly of the Earth to continue our intercession. Prayer was on the rise—and the assault was about to land.
Two of the resulting challenges were directly initiated by the Absalom spirit.
My wife and I interviewed a man and his wife for a pastoral care position in the church. I am not a pastor myself, meaning, I don’t have the giftings of that particular office. Barbara Yoder who is a friend and the leader of the network that we submit to identifies me as a prophetic apostle. I don’t care at all about the title, but it’s helpful to know who you are and who you are not!
Since I was clearly not at all energized by the various demands of pastoral ministry, and I was focused on other important assignments, I really desired someone to step in to help carry the pastoral load.
I’ll never forget the slight check in my spirit that I had as we were interviewing this couple. God said, “No,” and I said, “You’re hired!”
The couple stepped right up and started connecting relationally to people. They seemed to be doing a great job! In fact, he would stand at the door every Sunday and hug people as they entered. In hindsight that should have been a red flag.
As time went by, I started to feel extremely unsettled in my spirit. Keep in mind, the prayer culture was starting to take form and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the reason for the disturbance in my spirit. Resistance was increasing, though I didn’t know what the specific source was.
One day I called the staff together and shared with them the increasing trouble I was sensing and instructed them to pray. We went strong in prayer as a team—except for one. The new pastor was clearly struggling. The more intense the tongues, the more uncomfortable he appeared.
As we continued in that prayer storm I decreed that a shaking must come to our church. I shouted, “God, shake our church! Shake our church!” I prayed, in the fear of the Lord, for God to lovingly bring any necessary judgment to me and to our ministry—to make wrong things right. I knew only God, in his perfect wisdom, could resolve this trauma in the spirit.
A few days later I was sitting in the church with my Children’s Pastor and her husband, along with their baby who was sitting in a stroller. Our building was a 100 year old wooden structure with large beams along the top of the ceiling.
Suddenly the entire property started violently shaking! We looked around, wondering what was happening. It felt like an earthquake.
Then we heard a crashing sound above our heads as one of the large beams plummeted down and landed right between me and the baby. I didn’t connect the dots at that moment, but the shaking I had prayed for was manifesting. First in the natural, and next in the spirit.
Very soon after that happened I received an email from the pastor. He told me that he was resigning effective immediately. I was shocked. I emailed him back requesting a phone call or a meeting. He declined and I never saw him again.
He started his own church, took about 1/4th of our church—and then closed his church a month later and moved to Florida with his family. Everybody he influenced to leave was left to wander alone in confusion.
The Absalom spirit attacked with vengeance and it left destruction in its path.
God’s answer? Prune. We prayed for the shaking and the judgment, and while it was severe and difficult, it was necessary. Our ministry immediately became stronger and more unified after God swept through.
While I have extreme fear of the Lord on me when I feel it necessary to request the intervention of the judge, I always know that he is a good judge who loves deeply and who can be trusted fully.
There was another situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense.
I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.
Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something I considered to be incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that specific request due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting some on my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day. Further, since that situation, according to their analysis, revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of love!
My initial split-second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?
I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!
This was the same individual that had come to me previously with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”
If we try to convince people we love them, we won’t actually love them when administering true tough love, biblical discipline and other challenges are called for. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.
My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling, because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!
We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.
As the prayer culture continued to develop, the resistance elevated. Some people broke away, and I’ll never forget the tears I could hear when I talked on the phone with my wife one day. She was wounded and broken.
Though I was supposed to take my position for a prayer watch that night, I left. I went home. I gave up that night as well. We went to bed hurting and troubled. As leaders, we were doing our best to move at the sound of the voice of the Lord—but the resistance was nearly too much to bear. Great friends betrayed us and we didn’t know what to do.
In the morning she and I woke up startled. My wife had a dream. The earth opened up underneath Manitou Springs and the entire town was sucked into Hell. I had a sharp pain in my body that I knew was due to an open door to a specific demonic attack. We both knew we couldn’t give up. The mission was still on. We repented and the split second I did, the severe pain left my body. The open door of wrongful surrender to the enemy’s threats was closed.
I will never get over how God works. He is beyond amazing. Both my wife and I will admit that we were deeply wounded when this individual rose up against us. We instantly had to humble ourselves and allow God to work on our hearts. Though we feel we handled it well, God will always test us. That test is not for God, but for us—it will clearly show where we really are with a situation.
The coming Church is going to be jealously guarded by God, a loving Bridegroom. There won’t be room for bitter, unforgiving leaders, and we have to be willing to be continually tested by God. We must crave his involvement!
Our staff member finally decided to move from Colorado to another far away state. We thanked Jesus! What a wonderful moment that was! Though we had forgiven her, it felt good that the drama was over.
A year or so later, Amy and I were called to leave Colorado and move to Kansas City to join the staff of the International House of Prayer. Though we loved Colorado and the ministry there, we couldn’t deny that God was opening doors to Missouri, and we also couldn’t deny that a fresh new season was quite welcome.
We thought we’d only be there for the three month internship, but ended up staying for two years as we gave leadership to that very same internship as Directors. It was a very exciting time for our family—until…the crisis. I won’t go into the entire dramatic story, but please understand we were suddenly blindsided and the pain was real.
We lost an unborn baby (we’ve lost a total of seven) and were replaced as Directors of the internship in the same week. Suddenly, a lot of life and joy was replaced by very real, unexpected and confusing pain. Now, understand, though we were in another trial, we were processing very well. Being replaced in the internship did make sense, even though we enjoyed serving in that ministry so much! That role called for a very different personality type and gift mix, and I didn’t realize this when Mike Bickle offered me the position. They were so gracious in the entire process, and we love that ministry deeply!
However, again, the pain was legitimate. You might wonder how this story connects with the story of pain in Colorado. Get ready for this.
Remember, God will go to great lengths to ensure we are operating in love, and that we are humble and teachable.
At this time, God began opening doors for ministry in Detroit, Michigan. In those meetings he began to move in a very dramatic and powerful way, confirming his Word with signs following. So after much prayer, we felt led that we should move to Detroit. Now in the natural, this was not the best time to sell our house in Kansas City. The economy was bad and Forbes Magazine had recently called our city the eighth fastest dying city in America! So my wife put out a fleece: if God wants us to move to Detroit, he will have our house sell for our full asking price within seven days of placing it on the market.
Miraculously, God sold our home after being on the market for only six days!
Glory to God! We were in another exciting, miraculous season!
About thirty days before we were to move from Kansas City to Detroit I sat in my last all-staff meeting at IHOP. There was over a thousand people in that meeting, and I sat in the very back, on the floor, kind of bored and ready to get on with my day. Then it happened. The impossible happened.
From the platform I heard the leader of the meeting say something like, “We would like to introduce a new staff member who will be giving leadership to a new ministry on our base. Everybody welcome…”
No way! No way! No way!
It was impossible! When I heard her very distinct, unusual name, and saw her welcomed onto the team, I was speechless. I think my jaw hung down for quite a long time. My head was spinning as I was witnessing an invasion into our fragile world.
There was simply no way that this person, who had done so much damage to our ministry in Colorado, who had moved to a far away state, could suddenly converge with our life in Kansas City!
I stepped outside and called my wife. I’ll never forget her response to my news. After I told her who was now on staff, all I heard her say, with defeat in her tone, was, “No.”
Do you realize what happened? God set up this encounter, this trial, to test our hearts.
When I got home that afternoon, we talked and resolved that it was indeed a test, and we endeavored to pray for this person and to ask God to bless her deeply!
I never did see her over the next month. Amy, however, had a very important chance encounter with her. The very last day we lived in Kansas City, as the moving truck was being loaded in the driveway, Amy went to the bank to close our account. You guessed it. Standing in line right in front of her was our former staff member.
My wife smiled big and gave her a huge hug! Amy felt so good that it was so easy to love this person!
That was the last time we ever saw her, and to this day we pray for her to be wildly blessed!
Love will certainly manifest in many different ways, but for those who are called of God, that love will be tested. The coming Church will be a love-bathed Church, and we must welcome the testing, no matter how painful it is. My wife would say the freedom and abundant life she feels regarding the Colorado/Kansas City crisis is well worth the trial she and I went through.
Though I will share strategies on how to deal with Absalom in a moment, the primary strategy must be love. We cannot react in bitterness or resentment. Love heals.
It’s very important to understand that betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come if we are truly advancing as prophetic and apostolic leaders. Also, to de-spiritualize it just a bit, betrayal and resistance are guaranteed to come simply because we are weak, fallible humans. We will experience push back when we lead rightly and also when we struggle and fail. This is why humility is non-negotiable. Pride is not the right weapon to use against our attackers.
I find it very interesting that resistance and rejection cause so many people to leave ministry or to leave the church. When Jesus faced the same issues to a radically greater extreme, he laid his life down for the church. Betrayal was not enough to cause him to abdicate his responsibility to serve the church by giving his life. There was no gossip, no forcing his views on people and no attempt to be validated, affirmed or understood. He simply died.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
Is there a response to the Absalom assignment against churches? Yes.
Let’s look at some diagrams that will help bring great clarity to the necessity and power of holy agreement—which is what Absalom is attempting to destroy. There is a biblical process that we must embrace in the arena of differing opinions. As humans it is normal to have a variety of different ideas from those we are in relationship with–including leadership.
Just how we handle those differing ideas is the matter at hand. If we are holding strong to our own selfish ambitions (even if those ambitions are good!), and we refuse to place our will on the altar, problems will abound. Churches will split, gossip will flourish and division will actually be entertained as an optional method of resolution.
However, if we embrace integrity, humility, servanthood and the preference of others above ourselves, we’ll easily be willing to die to our own opinions for the sake of the body.
When we’re agreed, we’re strong. In the midst of different ideas, experiences, thoughts, opinions and concerns we simply agree to disagree for the sake of the mission.
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3
Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the Lord brings back Zion. Isaiah 52:8
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21
Agreement must be a mandatory and deliberate position that we all stand strong in, even at the cost of personal comfort and advance.
If God is releasing you from participation, make sure you follow through in the usually lengthy process of transition from this assignment to the next. Don’t go if there is hardness, bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart. Go blessed and free and sent by your pastor.
Healthy argument is OK. It’s a part of life. We simply have seasons where we disagree, and it’s important and appropriate at times to discuss it with the our leaders. Of course, we don’t involve anybody other than those directly involved (leaders, pastors, etc.). We don’t gossip or allow ourselves to become irritable. We agree to disagree and remain unified.
In Amos we see that God will reveal corporate instructions to some but not all. The rest of us are called to respond to the call of God as given through an imperfect human, and that can be a challenge for the best of us!
But, when we humble ourselves and surrender our right to cause a disturbance we can still move ahead in strength. The corporate mission is not threatened!
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? Amos 3:6-8
Here’s where the problems begin. We know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he loves it when he finds allies in the fellowship of believers to help him with his schemes of destruction.
At this point, submission has failed. Honoring others hasn’t happened. Personal preference has turned into a personal mission of dominance.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19
The sowing of discord among brethren is an abomination! Did you feel the weight of that? It’s not OK!
After teaching this to a class of interns one of them came to me the next day. He said that ever since he arrived a month ago he has had a heavy heart. He couldn’t break through it. After this class God convicted him of embracing a divisive and accusing spirit. He was assisting in his youth group back home, and he wanted to take the youth to a prayer and fasting event, even though he knew his leadership didn’t embrace that particular stream within the body. So, he secretly gathered the youth together and took them himself.
So what happened? You can see it in the diagram on the right. Any idea what word should fill in the blank?
Agreement. Unholy agreement. He gathered people to himself, to his vision (a great vision) and away from his leadership. Even though his heart simply wanted God and he felt a prayer and fasting event would be entirely appropriate, his action against his authority was inappropriate. The agreement people had with his vision resulted in disagreement, disunity, with those who were their rightful leaders.
The enemy craves agreement. He knows the power of it. The alliance is so important.
So, this particular individual was in the prayer room here and immediately repented for his rebellion to his authority. He said immediately he was broken and experienced God for the first time in weeks. He cried and cried as the love of the Father rushed in.
He called his leaders in his church back home and repented. They forgave him entirely and thanked him for his heart to make things right.
How amazing is that! No matter how holy you think your purpose is, if you have to violate God’s established authority in your life to see it come to pass, you will have to align with the enemy in order to do so!
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:4-7
Division will lead to unholy agreement. As we allow ourselves to align with others against leaders we are enhancing demonic unity. Unity and agreement is powerful whether it’s holy or unholy. Let’s endeavor for holy unity even if it’s at the cost of our own personal plans and dreams.
I’ve witnessed many people resist authority in their lives, and I’ve done it myself. The motives can seem pure and we may have the best interest of the body at heart, but it never produces anything good. The story of Absalom should speak clearly to us in regard to this issue.
Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.” And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:2-6
Absalom disagreed with his leader, and embraced the others who shared in his disagreement. We see this occur time and again within churches. It has a ring of honor to it as people presume to have the best interest of everybody at heart. However, it’s rebellion in its purest form. The results for those who embrace this spirit are often devastating.
Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on. Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, “I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!” So Joab said to the man who told him, “You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!’ 2 Samuel 18:9-12
Just as Absalom was met with judgment, I’ve witnessed over and over people enduring long seasons of struggle and frustration after rising up against God’s established authority–even if the authority is truly in error. It’s never acceptable to speak against the President of the United States, our supervisor at work, a teacher at school, our pastor or mom and dad. We always pray and support and love with abandonment! A differing opinion should never cause us to remove ourselves from a place of agreement with these people. We unite with them and serve as people who honor those God has placed in our lives.
Rebellion against any established human institution is a serious violation of God’s divine authority. We need to know and recognize the operation of God’s authority in all human institutions.
We never speak against or elevate our own opinions above God’s established authority. Pastors, prophets, apostles, politicians, policemen, bosses, etc. We humbly support them, unless, and only unless, they were to cause us to violate a CLEAR Scriptural truth. That’s it. If a leader is clearly corrupt and unrepentant then most certainly remove yourself from that person’s direct care.
Submit to God and be ready to serve Him through the process of love, prayer and encouragement for that leader. Watch what you say. Speak life always. Do not gossip.
It’s important to understand that to submit to God’s appointed leaders in our lives only to the point where we agree with the order is NOT submission at all. Submission is actually spotlighted when someone honors his or her authority when the order is contrary to their own opinions, experience or position. We can agree with our authority while not agreeing with the order or instruction or position. It is never appropriate to remove ourselves from a position of submission if the order given is inconvenient, bothersome or irritating.
In recent years the body has increasingly put demands on the very ones who they are to be receiving leadership from. This is sin, and it must stop.
The passage in Romans goes on to say this:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Romans 13:3
The enemy has caused millions of believers to be afraid of authority. It’s time to renounce the alliance with the spirits of Lawlessness and Self-government and do what is good. Many people who have been hurt by controlling pastors made a foolish decision by embracing that very same spirit for themselves–the spirit of control. We absolutely need to sever that alliance. God is our great Protector. Fear of authority will dissipate as the Holy Spirit once again takes up residence in the place where the spirits of Independence and Control once ruled.
Even when the church isn’t being run in what you would call an appropriate manner, it’s critical to support God’s government.
Gary Keiser said,
“It is better for us to live with a wrong system and uphold God’s authority than to destroy a system and thus destroy God’s authority in the process. We have to learn to submit to men and not to touch authority in a light way. In all these relationships we have to learn to know authority and practice obedience. We have to know that there are lords and masters in everything; we cannot assume to be the master as soon as we touch something. We have to learn obedience through many situations. One finds authority in the hospital. As soon as he works in a hospital, he has to obey the authority in the hospital. There is even authority in a restaurant. Some serve as managers, and we have to learn to obey them. If we touch authority in a genuine way, we will find authority wherever we go. In obeying the authority of earthly institutions, we are actually obeying God because all authorities are from God. We have to see that every authority is from God. Only a rebellious and proud man is blind to authority; only he will not submit to God’s deputy authority…. Titus 3:1 says that we should be “subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready unto every good work.” This is the proper attitude towards human government…. God’s authority in the universe is being carried out through human government.”
A strategy of self-preservation will result in a modified, powerless message that draws people to you instead of God.
If you are called as a prophet, you will feel moved to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, and to build and to plant (see Jeremiah 1:10). Intense spiritual warfare will be a frequent reality in your life. You will have a sense – a “knowing” – that you are being called to walk a narrower path than some around you. You will feel a sense of duty to honor God's will and be crushed with godly sorrow when you misstep. ~Jennifer LeClaire
So many don’t have a clear ministry goal, so I thought I’d offer one here. This is the calling of the end-time messenger:
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:18
The call is to teach in such a way that people actually want to kill you! What a life mission that is!
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. Luke 6:26
While true prophets were hated, excluded, reviled, spurned, beaten, tortured, and killed (cf. Heb. 11:32-38), false prophets were well spoken of, for they prophesied what people wanted to hear. This is a warning against seeking the approval of the world rather than being faithful to God.
ESV Study Bible, The: English Standard Version.
There is a GREAT fallacy that has castrated the messages of the end-times: We have to appear to be humble, meek and loving.
I deal with this in detail in my article The Great Love Deception. The thought is that we must expend energy to convince people that we are humble, when that mandate is simply not found in Scripture. We are to BE humble, and that humility very often manifests as a fierce, fearless anger against the spirit of the age. The goal isn’t to affirm others when challenge and correction is necessary. We aren’t to put on a plastic smile with alligator tears pouring down to convince people we care.
Of course, we aren’t to be careless or unloving either. We just preach with a broken heart and the fear of the Lord. The messages in the Word are so often radically offensive that we just let the Holy Spirit do the work.
There are ignored, shunned messages that are coursing throughout the Bible that must be taught again—with such conviction that the religious, independent, self-serving resistors will want to eliminate us.
Thank God for those who have not shrunk back from preaching “negative” messages. People like Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson and others have refused to shut up when the critics attack. We must boldly proclaim the Word of the Lord, no matter how bad of a light it shines on us or how open it leaves us to scrutiny.
Here’s one example of such a message:
SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Submission to authority. GASP! Yes, I said it. Clearly, since I’ve been focusing on this topic in recent Facebook and Twitter posts, I must be reacting to some people who just won’t submit to my authority, right? I am overbearing, self-centered and insecure…motivated by my need for people to submit to me. Ha! Wrong. It has nothing whatsoever to do with me or my personal endeavors. (I actually just chuckled as I wrote this.)
On the contrary, this message is a core life message of our ministry that God has required me to communicate, and it’s not uncommon for me to spend a lot of time teaching on it. My book Covens in the Church addresses this issue in detail and I’ve been teaching on it in our school and at other venues for years. I spend time counseling people who are ready to leave their church due to wounding, controlling pastors and other very real issues. Simply, it’s a clear, scriptural and healthy message that most pastors avoid teaching due to their fear of accusation. However, pastors would do well to embrace it and teach it with boldness. The Absalom spirit would be diffused before he even began to operate.
But, unfortunately, the fear of accusation is too often too great.
Pastors don’t want people to presume they are being controlling, manipulative and self-serving by teaching on this particular topic, so they ignore it entirely—to the detriment of the church. Today people are scattered, disconnected and driven by a casual, independent spirit that has greatly compromised the mission of the church and has left them unhealed, bitter and defensive. This is a direct result of selling people a spiritual eat-what-you-want buffet instead of calling people as holy soldiers to sign up to die.
You see, I’m more concerned about the corporate mission of the church to set multiplied millions of people free than I am the reaction of the resistant religious (or true brothers and sisters in Christ who simply disagree) when teaching on submission to authority. Beyond that, I’m exhilarated by people who were once operating in a religious, independent spirit finding freedom through the message of healthy submission. It’s a win/win!
When people submit, the enemy tells them they are in bondage, but God reveals they are free!
From Covens in the Church:
The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.
- Freedom from authority is rebellion.
- Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
- Freedom under authority is liberty.
Why is it so critical that this sensitive issue be discussed? I’m fully aware that many have been wounded by poor leaders in their lives. While some difficult points will be discussed over the next several pages, it must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them.
The call is not to validate poor leadership. It’s to validate leaders who, in their weakness, were positioned by God. It’s to ensure that we go through the proper processes in the face of disagreement so as to keep all of us as holy soldiers in position. We simply must serve the greater mission in love and mature to the place where we can trust an infallible God, who is the one who actually appointed our leaders. We are to allow God to work with and through those leaders, who are without question weak and fallible (as we all are). If we don’t, the greater mission of the church is compromised. A failed mission at this stage of Church history is not an option, and we must weather some mighty storms if we are to succeed.
God needs these messages to be released! We can’t be afraid of teachings like this having the appearance of being self-serving. We can’t back down when the accusation flies. We must preach truth, take the hits, let our pride and ego die and trust that God’s wisdom in the Word will set the masses free.
Submission to authority is dealt with clearly in Scripture, and it’s critical for us to understand it, and communicate it without apology…because the church today has been compromised by a casual, self-interested people. We need to see a passionate army that’s locked in and unoffendable and ready to serve with precision at the sound of the alarm.
I continually run into people who are offended at pastors and other authorities in their lives, and they have absolutely no idea that they are largely disqualified from effective ministry until they rectify that. Why? Because nobody is teaching them about this critical reality.
They are stunned when I start to unpack the issues and share about healthy submission to their previous leaders. They most always had no idea how they should have acted toward them. Some of them have lived in defeat for decades due to this issue! God wants them free! I am much more afraid of God than I am of man, so the accusations that will be hurled won’t hurt as much as if God was bringing judgment to me!
“You will lose your job, and then die.”
I was talking with a powerful, humble man of God in another nation recently. He shared a fearful story that highlights how serious God is about honoring and submitting to authority.
A lady was making inappropriate advances toward this pastor, and while initially subtle, she became more emboldened as time when on. She was initially counseled and ultimately removed from the church. She became deceptive and would attempt to make contact with him via a false name. Eventually, the pastor said, “If you don’t stop inappropriately touching the man of God, you will lose your job, and then, if you still don’t repent, you will die.”
Within weeks she lost her job. Then she died. The man of God conducted her funeral.
That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 1 Corinthians 11:30-31
This is just one example of necessary, costly end-time messages. Will you preach the truth, or just the part that draws people to you?
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
The messages we carry should absolutely provoke people out of compromise, deception, apathy and slumber—and into challenging, costly, inconvenient and absolutely glorious truth.
Or, how about…Tithe. There I go again! If I talk about tithing, I clearly must want to use people and manipulate them so I can be more financially secure, right? Come on.
I’ve actually heard pastors say that they refuse to teach on financial giving because they want to gain people’s trust. I suppose their wisdom surpasses the wisdom of scripture?
Jesus talked about money more than any other topic other than the Kingdom of God. Maybe instead of avoiding the topic of tithing and giving so people will like us better, we should expose the demon named Mammon that is attached to so many of them today. Maybe instead of focusing on our own ministry and on self-preservation, we can actually preach the Word and set the captives free!
When you carry burning messages in your spirit, you have to know that the release of these messages will result in rejection, accusation and a fierce resistance by the religious spirits around us.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” John 10:31-32
Even Jesus’ message was shut down by accusers and aggressors due to the trouble (salvation) he was bringing to the Earth:
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. John 7:1
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. John 11:53-54
THE SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS
In ministry, we must understand that MOST of those we are preaching to will soundly reject our message and will attack with a vengeance—oh, and these people are the spiritual and religious among us.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21
Preaching of the Word, whether it’s from behind a pulpit or in sound bites on Facebook and Twitter will always divide. Always.
It will provoke, trouble, challenge and set a standard. The problems come when that standard is higher than the standards of the religious.
Take six months and talk about nothing but holiness, repentance and Hell. I dare you.
Your attacks won’t come from the lost. The lost is actually waiting for a church that will have the guts to stand with such conviction. The assaults will come from your friends and family.
Read this in full:
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:5-11
It seems every time I hear someone teach on this passage, they presume that Joseph was arrogant, that the problem was with Joseph for communicating what God had revealed to him!
We have become so resistant of bold, provoking, disturbing messages of God that we accuse the messenger of pride or arrogance when they simply reveal the truth! Has this fear stopped you? Repent. It didn’t stop Joseph.
It was actually every one of his brothers and his parents that wrestled with pride, not Joseph!
Notice how his father ultimately responded rightly in his heart by keeping the matter in mind.
However, we know the story—his family set out to destroy him…simply because of communicating a message from God!
“…So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. Genesis 37:17-18
Those close to you must be expected to react wrongly toward you! Don’t presume you are off track when the arrows start flying! Stay humble, stay teachable, but simply know that the more pure your truth, the more violent the attacks will be.
(By the way, those who read this and are rising up in indignation will still presume I’m affirming arrogance—even though I just wrote that we must stay humble and teachable. Read it again…I affirm humility and teachablity. OK?)
True humility results in true boldness that can look very much like aggression as the fear of man has disappeared. The fear of God takes over.
False humility results in false love that is focused on being affirmed instead of setting the captives free.
Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4
PRESSURE FROM THE CROWD
Get a backbone.
If you can’t stand for truth in the face of resistance, what good are you? What impact will you have?
At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. Mark 6:25-28
When your family and friends and those you are trying to impress are in the picture, will you hold back or preach truth? Will you stay silent or sound an alarm?
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15
A sign of a growing ministry just may be small numbers and a message that will be rejected by even the most devoted Christians you know. Will you be OK with that?
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27
If you are unmoved, God will give you such perfect, pure and life-changing relationships with those who will die daily with you…who will not forsake you when you bring the offensive messages of the Word…and you will be marked as a true minister of the Most High God for all eternity.
When the crowds come, get ready to follow the fearless example of Peter in Acts 2:
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. Acts 2:22-23
Trust truth. Preach truth. Don’t temper it. Don’t hide from the offensive issues. Most will reject you. Some will hate you. A remnant will thank you. God will celebrate you for eternity.