Trust me, you will never look at the Burton family the same way again. Have we no shame?
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him–for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (NIV)A bunch of you out there have an aversion to enjoying life. You can probably blame a good, old fashioned religious spirit on that. God does want you to enjoy the life he died to give you. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We should die daily and live in resurrection power. We should give and prosper. Recently, Amy and I had the privilege of hosting a team of high school business class leaders at our escape room business, Escape Code, and our axe throwing business, The Axe Game in Branson, Missouri. Something I thoroughly enjoy is introducing and sharing Kingdom principles and other bits of life-giving wisdom in the marketplace. I know the bulk of our success comes from our radical devotion to promoting godly standards and living with integrity in the workplace.
11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11 (NIV)We recently “enjoyed” the opportunity going through a state audit for our escape room business. After hours, and hours, weeks and weeks of hard work, they met with us in person. Of course, we were nervous, wondering if our math would match with theirs. They reported that, aside from some very minor miscalculations, everything matched up. They were actually quite surprised and impressed at our honesty and integrity. My wife handles the finances, and if a single penny doesn’t match up, she will work hard correcting the error. She will pay that penny. That is not an exaggeration. After the high school students played one of our escape games, we had an opportunity to address the team of future business leaders and engage in a time of questions and answers. In addition to discussing the issues of extreme integrity and honor in the workplace, we encouraged them in a critical plan of action: develop multiple streams of income. When I was in high school, the only obvious option after graduation was to go to college. The question every junior and senior was asked time and time again was, “Where are you going to college?” It was college or bust. It would have been extremely valuable to know that there are many additional options in our big, wide world! Trade schools, alternative learning, business incubators, internships, various prosperous jobs that don't require college and many additional choices are out there. If our God loves to function outside the box, which he absolutely does, limiting our future and our income to a single, predictable track just doesn’t make sense. We made it clear that, yes, many would obviously benefit from a college degree, and, of course, many professions require it. I most certainly want our future doctors to have every degree and certification they need to operate. My oldest son, Skylar, is currently attending Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee as he prepares for a career in law. College, and more, is a requirement for him. However, whether college is or is not a part of one’s track toward success and prosperity, developing multiple streams of income is a valuable move. In my opinion, a non-negotiable one. For instance, people often criticize pastors who are financially prosperous, presuming they are immoral, thieves or greedy, when in fact they may have wisely developed multiple streams of income. They are appropriately creating wealth according to biblical standards. They have bought and sold real estate, written books, built businesses, consulted or initiated any number of other ventures that create wealth for them and their family.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth… Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)Amy and I never want to rely on a single source of income—or rely solely on ourselves. We want to let God lead and develop new ventures through us understanding that businesses fail, people get fired, the economy can crash and tides can turn. On the positive side, we are entrepreneurial at heart, and we have a blast creating businesses and fresh income strategies. It’s fun! We aren’t “rich,” but, then again, I believe we are. Our lives have been enriched in many ways. God has blessed us and we are thankful.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)Over the years we’ve had many streams of income, most of them small, that have helped us grow financially. In fact, when we leased space for The Axe Game earlier this year, two doors down from Escape Code, we also leased a storefront between the two businesses with plans to develop a third business at some point. It stands empty today as we give time to the praying and dreaming process. It is an exciting blank canvas for whatever big idea God drops into our spirit down the road.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)
A HILARIOUS NEW POTENTIAL INCOME SOURCE—GET READY TO LAUGH RIGHT AT ME!The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to bring attention to what the Burton family is doing, but rather to share how God is working in us so as to encourage you to dream big and break free from the stranglehold of poverty and lack. In fact, Amy and I along with the younger kids recently ventured into a new business that many would call “cringy,” but I call “cringy cool!” It’s called Toys of the Realm. But wait, allow me to back up a few weeks first. Another video project preceded Toys of the Realm. Amy and I have been gifted in some specific ways, including communication, creativity, graphic design and video production. We also love to travel and do it often. Anything from short day trips to business trips to ministry trips to actual vacations keep us on the move regularly. While we are about ten years late to the game, we decided to launch a YouTube travel channel. Many who started years ago are enjoying very large monthly checks. Today, the competition is much greater, but we will not be deterred! We spent a few hundred dollars for some basic equipment and then launched out to create travel videos. It’s so much fun! As I walk around with my gimbal, recording anything from donuts at Hurt’s Donut Company, to rides at Silver Dollar City, to cave systems to food on the table of our our favorite restaurants, people wonder what we are doing. We explain that we are travel vloggers and then offer them a business card that directs them to the YouTube channel that will soon have the very content they are watching us record, possibly that very night. TPF! Travel Adventures is a fun, though time consuming, potential stream of income that we are taking very seriously. We understand that it may take anywhere from one to three years to see ad revenue from YouTube and our affiliate marketing to start trickling in. But, who knows, we may really need those paychecks at that time. We will be extremely thankful that we planned ahead and developed this stream of income.
27 Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)
TOYS OF THE REALM—CRINGY COOL
Definition, CRINGY: Someone or something that makes you embarrassed to be a part of the human race. Usually classified by seeing something and feeling extremely embarrassed, throwing your head back and closing your eyes to block your view, and biting your lip to keep in your scream of utter disgust. ~Urban DictionaryAfter Amy and I kept this next potential income stream a secret for the first four episodes, we decided it was time to let our pride go and let the world laugh with (at) us. I playfully posted this to Facebook last night:
I have to confess something… a hidden, secret part of my life. You may never look at Amy or me the same way again…but it's time for the Burton family to come clean… We can hear toys talk. Yes, it's true. You might know me as a fiery preacher, an author and passionate revivalist… but, I couldn't keep this hidden part of our lives from you, our friends and family forever. After you watch our first four videos about our wild adventures rescuing toys from the Toy Reaper, you are sure to lift an eyebrow, shake your head in wonder…and ask your kids to interpret just what is happening. Some of you may start interceding for us. That's OK. We need it. If you could, say some prayers for the toys as well. They are in great danger. The first video can be seen here…just don't say we didn't warn you: https://youtu.be/yz1Kt019KWE The link to our channel where you can watch all four thrilling episodes is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMqwOHxpg5vWTxHbjGW5GYA Be sure to SUBSCRIBE so you can watch the adventure unfold multiple times each week. Please don't unfriend us. We need you now more than ever. John and Amy Burton and familyIt’s OK. Laugh. Amy and I have busted up laughing with tears in our eyes many times as we recorded and watched the final release of each episode. Definitely cringy…cool! So far, the toys have led us to castle ruins, through tunnels, into the woods and into a dungeon! How can that not be thrilling? Here’s the kicker. This channel may never bring us a dime, or some day it may bring in a truck load of dimes, but it has introduced something to our family that is exponentially much more valuable—we are having the time of our lives, together, as a family! The memories are more precious than all the gold in the world. In fact, there’s something to having fun as little children:
15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NIV)You can definitely laugh and cringe along with us. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we are having with both of our channels. Recently Amy and I took a day trip to Lake of the Ozarks and recorded an episode about a monster in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It was just good ole’ fun! We loved hanging together, coming up with story lines and just having fun on camera! Amy is a brilliant story teller. She develops all of our themes and storylines for our escape rooms. After playing, guests are regularly amazed at the fact that she designed them herself. She’s amazing! Now, with our children’s focused channel, Toys of the Realm, she uses that gift in another way. I’d strongly encourage you to watch, and cringe, and laugh HERE.
DO WHAT YOU LOVEAnother piece of advice we gave to the high schoolers was: do what you love. What causes you to come alive? Don’t base your career path on the amount of money it may provide. Discover your passion and have a blast discovering how you can turn that into a career! How often do we hear stories of people who have climbed the ladder and gained a six-figure income, only to burn out, quit and turn a hobby, something they are passionate about, into a career? It happens every day. I believe God puts passions inside of us, and often he enables us to turn those passions into wealth creating opportunities. Understand, when I say wealth, I’m not putting a gigantic number on it. Wealth is simply resource that enables us to live the life God has called us to, and to enrich others around us. Each stream of income may only bring in a few hundred dollars a month, but all together, they make it possible to pay the bills, give extravagantly and continue dreaming and developing new streams! Of course, those of you who know me understand that I’m all about revival and ministering in power. Laying down our lives and surrendering all should be our devotion every day. Many are called to venture into costly, challenging ministry assignments that don’t pay much at all. Definitely do that with your whole heart! However, I also believe we can still develop streams of income in the midst of ministry. When Amy and I were called to spend a season at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, it would have been impossible if I hadn’t already developed sources of income that would sustain us. We eventually received a small stipend at IHOPKC as I first joined the graphic design team and then was asked to direct one of the four primary internships. That stipend was not nearly enough to sustain us. It took the other streams to make our ministry there possible. In fact, we were able to buy a house. There was no one single source of income that made that possible. Many streams (I believe we had developed seven separate small streams at that time) were required. So, we were able to do what we loved, what we were called to do and support a growing family! After our season there, we moved to Detroit with no job, no new income opportunities and even nowhere to live. We drove our moving truck there, rented a place the next day, started a church, developed new income sources and watched ministry and finances develop together!
DON’T BE LAZY!
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:25-27 (NIV)Friend, many people are in lack because of this very parable. Look at how it continues:
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Matthew 25:28-29 (NIV)Those who are lazy, those who don’t aggressively advance in their financial strategies will often find themselves losing ground while those who are prosperous and working hard will seem to gain with little effort. While it’s true that doing what you love will result in a life where you don’t really work at all, as the saying goes, the truth is that you must work very hard. But if you choose your career and businesses wisely, the work will be enjoyable. While I understand that we may not see financial rewards from our two video endeavors for years, we are recording several times a week and I’m editing late into the night, several hours at a time, day after day. I love it! However, it absolutely is work. Add that to running two extremely busy and demanding businesses, working often at those businesses personally to keep staff costs down, writing for Charisma and other publications, traveling for business and ministry, going to parent/teacher meetings, gymnastics and other soccer mom (and dad!) style responsibilities, and you have a lot of work! This being said, as you work very hard, stay healthy, get rest and always know it’s God who brings increase, you will live in victory. A wrong heart will do you in. A right focus will bring great success. Your work and faithfulness will result in God ordering your steps.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)
GUARD YOUR HEART
15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 (ESV)The purpose of creating wealth is not for the sake of accumulating wealth. It takes a humble and zealous lover of Jesus to agree with the principle that God desires us to create wealth, and to have great resource to give extravagantly, while never, ever giving our heart to that wealth. In fact, if you can’t grow financially and grow in Jesus at the same time, I’d strongly encourage you to do what the Rich Young Ruler was instructed to do. Give it all away! Your eternity is not worth a temporarily large bank account. It’s laughable that it would be. So, guard your heart. Reject greed. Be a passionate, fervent lover of Jesus and allow the resources you develop to bring life to your family, to the church and to the Kingdom of God.
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)
YOU CAN DO IT!You absolutely have been given gifts and passions by God that can result in a joyful and very busy life that includes a strategic track toward financial prosperity. God isn’t going to drop the money into your lap. The Parable of the Talents should be enough to shake us all out of that mirage. Not only has God given us the power to create wealth, he has given us the responsibility to do so! I’d strongly encourage you to read a powerful article on the subject that I wrote recently titled: Why giving large percentages of our finances to the church might require disobedience to God. Here’s an excerpt:
Successful entrepreneurs and business people will understand this principle easily. Their money is simply a tool. It’s used to expand their business, make investments and multiply their resources so they can have greater and greater impact. Don’t ever look at a wealthy Christian in judgment. Many of them are doing exactly what God wants them to do. They aren't suppose to give everything to the poor or to the church. Their gift is much better used by multiplying resources and giving extravagantly year after year then by simply giving away what they have a single time. The result would be lack of resources and an inability to do what God has called them to do. If you have one million dollars, don’t give it all away. Multiply it and give millions and millions away. If we give all we have to the church, or more than God has called us to, we won’t have enough to put to work for the sake of multiplication. We must give the correct amount and invest the correct amount to see the greatest Kingdom impact.Kick into prayer. Develop strategies. Dream. Plan. Move. Risk. Maybe God will call you to develop something that has the world laughing at you…as you laugh right on over to the bank. Your pastor and ministries all over the world will certainly appreciate the upward spike in your giving receipts as well.
Watch the video: Reformation Churches Part 2—it’s time for the prophetic messengers to awaken the remnant!
FIRST: Don’t miss the last two CoFI Break messages, “Advancing in Your Ministry” and “My Three Motivations.” They are both powerful teachings that will help you stay on fire and advance in your calling every day! Use the series browser on the media player HERE.
REFORMATION CHURCHES PART 2
Revival requires a movement of reformers who will pray with passion and advance as forerunners in the cities of the Earth.
God is awakening prophetic voices to sound the alarm and call people into a supernatural life as we contend for reformation in the church.
COVENS IN THE CHURCH/PHARAOH IN THE CHURCH BUNDLE
Brand new! Order and immediately download this three piece bundle which includes both books AND the full length audio teaching!
Go to www.thefurnace.tv/shop today!
BOOK ONE: Covens in the Churchby John Burton
A nest of demons has gathered to violently assault the church worldwide-all with the church’s agreement.
Join in on a discussion on the issues of unity, authority and mission advance.
As we lock arms in intentional agreement, and refuse to move out of position because of offense or hurt, the church will fulfill its mission of Kingdom advance.
BOOK TWO: Pharaoh in the Church by John Burton
This book is a burning message, an Exodus call that originated in at least a small way like the original Exodus call in a burning bush. Moses experienced the zeal of the deliverer to see His people free to encounter Him. The goal of this book is for you to discover the pounding heart of God in a way that, I believe, will result in a deep and resounding cry of agreement to embrace a radical revolution in the church.
Listen to this teaching from tonight’s class at thelab school of fire—The Lifestyle of a Forerunner.
You will get rocked as you listen to this teaching from thelab school of fire. It’s hot off the press—just a couple of hours old.
Are you ready to step into the calling of an end-time forerunner? Listen and find out!
Additionally, here is a short audio about the most troubling end-time dream I’ve ever had. I shared this tonight, but stopped the recording before I did so. http://media.johnburton.net/2217865
The Lifestyle of a Forerunner
1. A Generation of Zealots
a. One of this ministry’s primary callings is to minister with a “forerunner spirit”. Forerunners prepare the way for the Lord by preparing people to respond rightly to Jesus in light of His Second Coming.
b. A description of the forerunner ministry:
I've been listening to Mike Bickle's series on the forerunner and the fasted lifestyle. Fasting of our time, food and money. He talks about how disruptive it is to give ourselves to God in a radical way. We are living in a prophetic time, we are a prophetic generation, many believe the generation before the Lord's return, and there is a call to radical, extravagant devotion to Jesus.
If we say Yes, we are blessed in the deeper things of God during this life and the one to come. If we say No and lock ourselves behind our safe religious traditions, we risk our hearts growing cold to the deeper things of God. We don't separate ourselves from His love, but we close the door to a greater awakening and walking in deeper revelation. Don't know about you guys, but I want a deeper revelation. The same ole same ole doesn't work any more.
But the radical, fasted lifestyle messes with our worlds. It's disruptive. It means eating less, spending less, sleeping less so we can get up or stay up for prayer. Worse, our pursuit disrupts the lives of those around us – our friends and families.
In Matthew 11:19, Jesus is preaching and reminding the people the religious leaders said John the Baptist had a demon, and they accused Jesus of being a glutton and drunkard. Bible believing, Bible preaching people are going to be offended at the radical lifestyle and they are going to call us crazy, demonized, drunkards and all sorts of things. Our reputations will be ruin, perhaps.
Jesus tells us we will be reviled because He was reviled. But, we will have what can't be taken a way – a knowledge of the Beautiful man. An experience in the pleasures of God, IN THIS LIFE. And I believe, walking in divine power and authority.
I've concluded: Prayer is a must. Not bless Aunt Betty prayers, but intercession. We cannot go on without it. We must pray the Word, believe the Word. We must dialog with God using His own words. It deepens our own understanding, our own revelation.
Giving, praying, fasting unlocks our hearts! Even our smallest effort. The writer of Hebrews understood this and challenges us. “Oh my stars, you guys still want milk? You could be eating steak by now.
c. We are in a transitional season between generations.
i. A prophetic generation is arising around the world who's daily lifestyle will look nothing like their parent's.
ii. Both ancient and emerging
1. Acts 2:43-47 (NKJV) 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
iii. Forerunner- a person who goes or is sent in advance to announce the coming of someone or something that follows
iv. John the Baptist was the forerunner- Matthew 11:7-10 (NKJV) 11:7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'
1. Luke 1:15-17 (NKJV) 1:15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
v. Detroit is a forerunner city- we as forerunners are establishing a city of the future as God reveals his plans.
vi. The ministry of the forerunner, especially during transitional seasons like the one we're in, is one of the most important in the church.
1. For those who are forerunners
2. For those who are not
3. Forerunners must:
a. Clearly hear God's fresh Word
b. Accurately declare that Word
c. Warn others of what is coming
e. Apostolically prepare new ground
f. Prophetically see what God is doing and do whatever is necessary to prepare the body for what lies ahead
g. Isaiah 40:3-5 (NKJV) 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; 5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
i. We are also preparing the way for Jesus! The preparation of the arrival of a city of refuge, of a city of worship and of Jesus himself requires absolute focus, energy and passion.
h. Embrace the continual disruption to our rest, our focuses, our families, our relationships, our work and our pursuits- as God continually requires more of us, shakes us to the core and develops us into radical pioneers!
i. My call to die (YMCA)
ii. Becca was told that she would have to surrender her family to God if she wanted to accept her calling.
iii. Vision of her daughter on the dock
iv. The life of the forerunner, as with John the Baptist, is a life of lonely and zealous and continuous declaration.
1. They have surrendered their lives.
2. God asked Becca permission to take her life. He asked me permission to take mine. He's asking the entire generation of forerunners to die.
3. Mat 14:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.
i. Report from the Forerunner School of Ministry
i. My Internship Experience: Do Not Despise the Process
As I sit down to write this paper and reflect upon the changes that have occurred in these last six months, I’m actually weeping because of my gratitude and amazement. I could never have imagined all that has happened in these last six months. As I read through my application testimony, I’ve realized that the girl sitting here today is not the same person that wrote that paper less than a year ago. God’s been busy…
I’m not going to lie; this was not a fun season of life. I’ve never cried so much, nor felt so lonely, nor felt like my very life was being sucked out of me with each passing hour in the prayer room (graphic, yet true). I had anticipated a breaking of sorts when I got here, Lord knows I needed it, but I did not understand the entirety of what I had signed up for. In the infamous words of Corey Russell, God got up in my business. Almost as soon as I got here, God took me out of the excitement and comforts of internship bonding and into a twenty-one day fast (promptly breaking my fear of fasting). It was clear that this season wasn’t about my ability to make good friends; God wanted me all to himself. In a place where every single false comfort and idol had been stripped away and only loneliness and barrenness remained (thank you, Dana Chandler for providing language for the groaning), I quickly realized that I had a deep fear of intimacy and animosity against God. I didn’t trust God. Actually, everything that I struggle with has its roots in distrust, is God really who he says he is? Will He really do everything he has promised? Can I really give him my whole life? God has proven faithful time and time again to answer my many questions.
This is what it all boils down to: I’ve fallen in love with a Man and he’s bid me come and die so that I may truly live. I’ve signed up for a life that’s different, wholly other than what the world thinks of as a successful life. I didn’t know that my life would be “ruined” when I got here. I didn’t know that there would be an unsatisfied ache in my soul that will remain all the days of my life. I didn’t know that I was going to be preparing for the last days and the return of my Lord and Savior, which was, by the way, one of the biggest shocks of the internship – my college education in theology did not prepare me for this message! I didn’t know the cost would be so great and that the reward would be far greater…here I go weeping again. As this internship ends, I find that I’m embarking on a great journey: To spend the rest of my life now and in eternity experiencing this man and his love and seeking out a comprehension of this God and his glory; what could be greater?
I've had a hard time giving language to all that has taken place in my life. What do you say when God takes you to a place of complete death to self, only to realize that what rises from the ashes is a hunger pang that can never be satisfied by anything less than the presense of the Lord. Guys – I'm ruined. I don't want anything but God. All else in this life is dim, dull and painfully worthless
j. Those who don't feel they are forerunners must:
i. Embrace their relationship with the forerunners in their lives
ii. Listen closely to the instructions of the forerunners
iii. Prepare for a drastic lifestyle change in the comings months and years
iv. Deliberately discipline themselves according to the Word of the Lord for this season
d. I've lived a strange experience in ministry
i. Since 1991 I have been burning with virtually the same message and have been both disappointed and shocked that so few in the church were eagerly responsive.
1. Calling prayer meetings as a youth pastor and everyone stayed in the foyer
2. Prayer walking in San Diego- less than 10 people vs. going to the beach- 40-50 people
3. In the church in Dayton every day after work for hours alone while most others barely made it 2-3 times a month
4. I found myself puzzled as I would proclaim the necessary and critical directives of God- pray hours a week! I'd get nods, smiles and some response… but much non-responsiveness.
ii. I wasn't alone in my pursuit, I knew that. I experienced first hand mighty people of God who also modeled such a lifestyle.
e. The critical relationship between the forerunner and the body
i. As I've discovered more about the forerunner ministry, the more I have understood the critical importance of an intentional relationship between them and the church.
ii. If you can't hear God, stay very close to someone who does.
1. Amos 3:6-8 (NKJV) 3:6 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? 7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
2. We know that we should all prophesy, should all hear God… especially those associated with ministries like this as we are a team of forerunners and developing forerunners.
a. However, there is a special prophetic declaration that is being sounded through forerunners- and it's critical to heed that alarm!
b. The difficulty in this is that those who don't personally hear the alarm simply assume that it is not sounding, or that it is not for them.
c. The reality is that God established the prophetic ministry as a protective measure for his church.
d. It's very important to read the Elijah List, to listen to people like Chuck Pierce and others who are proclaiming the Word of the Lord for these end-times.
e. Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NKJV) 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
i. The visionaries, the forerunners, write the vision down and the rest of the body reads and runs!
ii. John 1:14-15 (NKJV) 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' ”
iii. John the Baptist said, “this was He of whom I said”… yet people weren't entirely ready for his arrival. Will the church be ready to respond to the word of the prophets? The forerunners? Is the church resisting or responding? Heck, are those who are called as forerunners resisting or responding!
f. Are you called as a forerunner? Someone who is establishing now what God desires to exist in the not to distant future?
i. If so, you will have the responsibility of proclaiming and establishing some difficult truths.
ii. You will have the responsibility of reordering every part of your life to ensure there is extreme time, energy and passion available to complete the mission.
iii. We as forerunners are living now as the entire generation of Spirit-filled believers will be living in a short amount of time.
1. We are praying hours a week, we are together in strategy sessions continually, we are maturing at a very fast rate, we are unified and organized as a holy military.
2. We are allowing extreme lifestyle pressure to hit us because of the severity of the prophetic call on our lives.
3. Isaiah 62:6-7 (NKJV) 62:6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, 7 And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
4. We must repent for our schedules!
a. We are called to order our lives in such a way that our mandate is carried out, not in a way that focuses on rest and entertainment!
g. The forerunner is simply announcing what will be the normal lifestyle of the normal believer in a short time to come.
i. This doesn't mean all will respond, but it means that those whose hearts don't grow cold will be those that do respond.
ii. Luke 8:16-18 (NKJV) 8:16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 “Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”
iii. As we hear and shine the light of the Word of God, more and more revelation will come to us. It's the normal way of life for the believer- but we are living below the bar.
1. It will be the norm to be in church and ministry activities 4 or 5 nights a week.
a. Psalms 27:4 (NKJV) 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.
2. It will be the norm for every believer to pray easily 15 or more hours a week (This lifestyle is already normal in Africa- Friday prayer meetings. We must look at this and understand we are lagging way, way behind God's norm for the church)
3. It will be easy to understand that the lifestyle God gives us is not there to bring comfort to our lives, which is the opposite of the mindset of the western church now.
a. The extreme problem in the church as we know it is that we assume it's there to make our lives better, that God's primary purpose is to comfort us… but it's an inaccurate idea!
i. When we find ourselves full enough, the prayer stops, the effort ceases, the pressing eases. We must push because of the magnitude of our mission!
ii. We will only fulfill our mission if we are bleeding and sweating and pressing in great unity every day of the week with smiles on our faces and fire in our eyes!
b. Our pleasure and comfort will come through intimacy and obedience.
c. Isaiah 58:12-14 (NKJV) 58:12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. 13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
4. The disruption of our daily lives will be embraced.
5. Romans 12:10-11 (NKJV) 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
6. Let's join with other forerunners around the world and establish now in our lives and in this city what is to come! Detroit is a forerunner city- one that will be devoted to God not only on Sundays, but 24/7! It will disrupt everything in our lives, it will demand much, and it is what God has called us to!
7. The way we live our lives now, as forerunners, is what we are prophetically declaring to the world- as we live so they will live. Is it enough?
2. John the Baptist
a. Characteristics of a forerunner's life
i. Self-denial- Matthew 3:4 (NKJV) 3:4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
ii. Courage- Matthew 3:5-8 (NKJV) 3:5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…
iii. Obedience- Matthew 3:13-15 (NKJV) 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
iv. Powerful Preacher- Mark 1:4-5 (NKJV) 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
v. Humility- John 1:19-23 (NKJV) 1:19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD, ‘ ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
vi. Holiness- Mark 6:20 (NKJV) 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
vii. Burning Zeal- John 5:35 (NKJV) 5:35 “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
viii. Honored by Christ- Matthew 11:11 (NKJV) 11:11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
ix. Did No Miracle- John 10:41 (NKJV) 10:41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.”
x. Suffered Martyrdom- Matthew 14:10 (NKJV) 14:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.