When crisis comes, the church must respond with a fiery resolve to fan the flames of revival.
Revival or riots? It's clear which one is taking the nation by storm right now.
It's been said that wherever Paul went he'd kick-start either a revival or a riot. The sharp edge of the message he was bringing resulted in people either surrendering all to follow Jesus or in a mass resistance.
5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. Acts 17:5-6 (NLT2)
When the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached we can expect either revival or riots. However, the riots that are erupting in cities all over the nation as a result of the horrific and inexcusable death of George Floyd has nothing to do with a powerful message of truth. Love expressed through the truth of the Word will result in a rioting mob, but so will hate. Today's riots have everything to do with hate and nothing to do with love. All of this is happening on the church's watch.
RIOTING IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD
Pastor Eric Smith of Destiny Church in Dayton, Ohio saw a protester holding a sign that repeated the words of Martin Luther King: Riots are the language of the unheard.
Eric simply and profoundly said, “Time to get a new language.”
It's important to note that Dr. King was a fierce resistor of violent protest. His analytical statement, however, was true. When people are not heard, when they are pushed to their limits, it's possible to break. An uprising is to be expected. However, Pastor Eric was correct. If riots are the language of the unheard, it absolutely is time to get a new language.
WICKED SPIRITS OVERTAKING OUR NATION
Part of my grief over the death and violence that has erupted is due to a loss of discernment in our nation. I believe there's a mighty spirit of confusion that's settling over America right now.
Coronavirus exposed a severe spirit of fear that absolutely devastated millions, whether they were infected by the virus or not. Mobs verbally assaulted those who didn't wear a mask while shopping. Stop and think about just how fierce that demonic spirit of fear is.
Then a spirit of rage and, for many, hatred exploded overnight after another heart-wrenching and tragic death of an African-American at the hands of a police officer. A call to “kill cops” is being sounded by some in the midst of this crisis. As you watch the news and witness fires burning all over the nation, you can understand the power of this particular spirit of rage and hate as well.
Another spirit preceded our recent testings, and it's gaining strength today. America has been seduced by a strong delusion. Strange confusion has overtaken our culture.
Just a week ago, protesters marching against the lockdowns due to COVID-19 were called murderers by some because they weren't social distancing or wearing masks. Fast forward several days and a new set of protests emerged in the land for a very different reason. Where are the calls for social distancing and masks as peaceful protesters marched and as rioters converged in mass to destroy businesses and attack people including business owners and police officers?
Add to this the gender confusion that's been in the news in recent years. Men are women and women are men, so it seems, and you can be legally responsible if you don't address these people by their chosen gender. It's absolutely bizarre.
I could write into the night with example after example of strange confusion and delusion that has spread through society. Suffice it to say it's clear that a very wicked and very strong demonic agenda has been unleashed against our nation. Fear, rage, hate and delusion have blanketed the land and it's time for the church to finally rise up.
A NEW LANGUAGE
Some of you will be frustrated with my prescription in the midst of the virus and riots and madness. Most, it seems, are looking for governmental resolutions, legislation and penalties for those who don't comply. While appropriate new laws can certainly help, the truth is that we can never legislate away the assaults of invisible and very crafty evil spirits. Satan rages and he won't submit to man's laws. You can't create a law that eliminates hatred. You can't create systems that alleviate fear. Why? These are spirits warring against us and the only way to fight back is in the invisible, spiritual realm.
The grief that grips me is that most are looking for logical and natural solutions to a spiritual problem. While we can certainly take some steps in the natural, our victory won't be found there.
The new language that Pastor Eric was referring to, if I might suppose just a bit, centers around repentance instead of riots, love instead of hatred and spiritual violence instead of natural rage.
Simply, we must pursue full-blown, supernatural and overwhelming revival as our primary resolution. The new language, at its root, is passionate, aggressive and vein-popping intercession. We as God's government on the earth must rise up and pray!
This is the force the spirit of the age must feel coming against it in these end times. As we live a life of soul-ripping repentance and contend for revival in the land, we will be consumed with the desire for prayer. The need will overwhelm us. Tears will flow down our cheeks as we stand in the gap as spiritual warriors and push the enemy back.
It makes little sense to attempt to seek peace in the midst of war when the enemy hasn't yet been defeated. The enemy isn't a virus or blacks or whites or Asians or the police or politicians. To think so is laughable. The destruction of the adversary, of Satan's hordes, is the solitary key to winning this battle and driving out spirits of fear, rage, hatred and confusion.
It's the love of Jesus that will cause us to fight like this. From that place of intercession and spiritual warfare we will discern the enemies that those who are not living in the spirit can't see. We are God's secret agents and revival is our cry.
Imagine the cities that are burning today transformed by the fire of the Holy Spirit! We need millions to fall desperately in love with Jesus! The harvest is ripe! They are waiting for an otherworldly message that will shock them to their core and drive them to their knees!
Only then will we have the revival and riots that Paul experienced. As for the riots we are seeing today, they are the cry of the unheard. Yes, we must all listen to them, hear their pain and cry with them. I also pray their cry turns to intercession instead of violence. That's the language that Pastor Eric was really talking about.
We are seeing the beginning of the greatest movement of love the world has ever known—and the greatest confusion about love in history.
In our self-centered, narcissistic generation, the demand for others to respond rightly to us seems to be overwhelming the command to respond rightly to others.
In ministry I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness people spinning out time and time again when they aren't affirmed the way they think they should be. The enemy is offering his anointing of accusation to wounded people so they can point a finger and identify failures in others. The truth is that most often they simply don’t understand what love really looks like in the Kingdom.
It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.
The problem? There’s confusion about what love is. True love will often shock us, and we are most certainly in a time when that jolt must come.
Operation Babel: A prophetic strategy to break the power of the homosexual spirit
God opened up a powerful strategy to disrupt the momentum of the homosexual agenda to me—and a successful campaign will result in innumerable people set free.
Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Is this really the limit of our wisdom?
I’m sure the LGBT community is sick, bored and tired of that defense—and I am too.
It offers no strategic plan of action and it reveals that we have exhausted our arguments. After loving the sinner and hating the sin, where does that leave us? What do we do?
That statement, love the sinner and hate the sin, really needs to be retired.
In fact, it was made famous by someone who wasn’t even a Believer in Jesus—Gandhi.
As I was considering this in prayer, God suddenly and powerfully revealed a clear, easy to understand strategy that will, without question, stop the fast moving gay agenda in its tracks.
The church just has to make it happen. Spoiler alert: We have to pray, in unity, with one language, in the Holy Spirit.
The gay agenda is driven by a spirit. We must keep this in mind. Of course, we don’t wrestle with people. We wrestle with unholy spirits. But, it’s true that many people are in alliance with those very spirits that we are battling, so it’s unfortunately common for there to be collateral damage. Don’t mistake that collateral damage with fighting against flesh and blood. When we deal with evil spirits, those who renounce them will be set free while those who embrace them will experience their judgment.
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 6:12
Pray that the Holy Spirit draws many to renounce the spirits that are holding them captive as this massive strategy that I’m calling Operation Babel unfolds.
Maybe we need to advance our plan from “love the sinner, hate the sin” to “fight the spirit, free the person.”
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. Genesis 11:1
Unity. If Christians grasped the power of true unity, around a common holy purpose, we’d see unstoppable advance. The Kingdom of God would move in the power and at the speed of lightning.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. Acts 4:32
…so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6
Unfortunately, the church is lacking in unity (and I’m not talking about ecumenical affinity). We must immediately unify around the upper room of fervent prayer.
And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations””… Mark 11:17
Today’s homosexual movement is possibly the most unified on the Earth. They have one language and one purpose. Everybody is in agreement and they are infiltrating with the intention of leading every segment of society.
They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. Revelation 17:13
Unholy unity was a key strategy in history, it’s a key strategy today and it will be a key strategy at the end of the age as people will come into alignment with the beast.
Today’s unity in the homosexual movement is what we must address now.
And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Genesis 11:2-3
Bricks are representative of human efforts to build their own kingdoms. Remember Egypt? The Hebrews were required to make bricks so Pharaoh could continue to build his empire.
That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. Exodus 5:6-7
Today there is a mass movement of brick making.
Individual bricks, when put together, will result in a mighty city and a mighty tower.
The bricks of legislation and gay friendly government policies are being made a record pace. Bricks carefully made by human hands can be seen in a variety of places such as gay pride parades, gay friendly curriculum in schools, the advance of gay marriage from state to state, entertainment and media, marketing campaigns and through the influence of major brands. Each brick is resulting in greater affirmation of this unholy movement.
Additionally, as with Pharaoh and the Hebrews, there is intense pressure today on Christians to actually make the bricks!
Pharaoh forced God’s people to make bricks for him, and today’s homosexual movement is attempting to force God’s people today to do the same thing. Christian bakers are being forced to make wedding cakes for gay weddings. The threat of forcing Christian pastors to marry homosexuals is just over the horizon. This evil spirit is bent on commanding Christians to agree with and actually promote his plan of destruction!
Just as the bricks were baked thoroughly at Babel, there is a thorough, well thought out process of brick making in play now that will, if we don’t step up, result in an evil city and tower being built.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens… Genesis 11:4a
The goal then was to take dominion, and that’s the goal now.
The city represents the plan to spread horizontally around the world—to see homosexuality become not only accepted, but the primary leader of humanity. This spirit doesn’t simply want to be affirmed—it wants to dominate.
The tower represents a connection with Heaven. The “gay Christian” movement is moving at the speed of light—and even the most biblically sound arguments against it are not convincing those who are seduced by this spirit. The unity is too strong and the response of the church has been too weak.
This simultaneous horizontal and vertical advance of the homosexual movement is brilliant, though not original. We saw it at Babel, and we’ll see it again at the end of the age. The Antichrist’s strategy includes horizontal world domination and a vertical one world religion. At the end of that strategy, after a great battle, God wins. God is primed to win this battle today as well—but the church must fight from a place of humility, love and prayer.
But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Revelation 19:20
…and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4b
Pride. The flood of Noah was a much nearer reality to them than it is to us today, and they weren’t about to let their destruction happen again. They were determined to grow in strength through radical unity and to defy God through pride. They wanted to make a name for themselves. This is a Luciferian spirit that, in pride, seeks to rise to the heavens.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:12-14
Identity. We can see how successful the enemy has been just by how many are absolutely convinced their homosexuality is core to their identity. The argument is that they were born that way. It’s the defining mark of who they are as a person, and they are proud of that.
I’ve argued before that I don’t believe the primary driver of homosexuality is lust—it’s identity. When personal desires and experiences are grafted in at the level of identity, the enemy has won a primary battle. When he has won that battle with many people, a movement around that very personal and overpowering identity results. That nearly unstoppable unified advance is what we are dealing with today.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. Genesis 11:5
God is not absent. He is watching and he is ready to move. His desire, which is so much stronger than ours, is for freedom. For life. He wants the movement stopped and he wants its influence marginalized.
And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do… Genesis 11:6a
Again, their unity and their common language is all it took to advance in strength. Spoiler alert: Are you noticing an Acts 2 strategy?
This very simple strategy of unity and common language is also driving today’s homosexual agenda. They are agreed in identity and are saying the same things. Their resulting pride gives them great strength.
However, be warned, this is only the beginning. God revealed this about those building the city and the tower. It was only the beginning of what they would do! Basically, God was saying they would be unstoppable.
There is a great threat today as well. The demonic spirit behind the homosexual camp has much more planned than promoting equal rights. He is intently focused on destruction.
…And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Genesis 11:6b
Their options were limitless. Their unity resulted in strength and capability beyond anything that had ever existed among men.
Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:7
Confusion in the camp. That’s the plan.
The inability to communicate and the existence of confusion will stop the most advanced, aggressive and powerful movements.
So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:8-9
In a moment, the movement ceased.
Did you notice a similarity between the enemy’s strategy of unity and common language to a well known strategy of God?
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1
They were unified and together—and confusion was eliminated as the language barrier (that God created in Genesis 11) was overcome!
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:4-6
A Prayer Movement
Simply stated, we must have a movement of Holy Ghost infused intercession. A mass advance of people praying in tongues is non-negotiable if we hope to move ahead in great unity. As we do this, we will stand in powerful agreement and pray for confusion to come to the enemy’s camp—so the millions of slaves held there can drop their bricks and be free.
The stories of Babel and the Exodus have key parallels.
The confusion at Babel and the plagues at Egypt got the job done.
Some will radically reject God at that time and be dispersed while others will fall in love with Jesus and move out of slavery and into the glorious encounter.
Pray for God to continue to raise up mighty men and women of God in the spirit of Moses to deliver people from horrific bondage.
Pray for God himself to come down and bring confusion to the homosexual movement.
Pray for the church, in a spirit of passionate love, to gather together in fervent, Holy Spirit driven intercession.
It truly is a prayer movement that will see this unholy tower dismantled.
Father confusion: We cannot presume what it is to be a good father based on our human understanding.
First: TONIGHT! I’ll be teaching on the orphan spirit and a fatherless generation! 7pm at Revival Church!
Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.
Correction: I was bouncing between two thoughts when I wrote a certain point in the last article, and used the wrong passage to make my point, which made my point incorrect. Thanks to my friend Mark for pointing it out!
The two passages I was bouncing between were:
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58
And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Acts 22:20
In my original post I mentioned that Jesus was standing and giving his approval, but I based it on Acts 22:20, which was the wrong verse. That was actually Saul. Big difference!
But, in the appropriate passage, Acts 7:54-58, we do see Jesus standing in honor of Stephen’s martyrdom. That was the point I meant to make!
Here’s the corrected version:
Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it’s not negative at all. It’s glorious!
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58
How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephen’s to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Saul’s are awakened into their destinies.
Another point in the article has caused some trouble!
Here it is:
Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: it’s not always the devil. How often to people rebuke demons when it’s actually God that caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively than what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness?
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because he was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn’t rebuke them, and that didn’t cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn’t want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn’t his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.
There is such a wild misunderstanding of the nature and character of God as Father today.
The resistance to this point is coming from those who subscribe to the idea that God would never do anything negative. Of course, that is the reason I wrote the article—to address this fallacy.
Someone on Facebook said:
God never allows evil.
That just can’t be supported in scripture.
If we truly know that our Father loves us, we won't balk at the trouble he initiates for us. We will trust him.
The text is very simple… we can look at it…
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me,” God was the primary player in this… he gave the messenger of Satan… and he had a reason: “…to keep me from becoming conceited.”
Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.
So, God used Satan to keep Paul in line. That is the very simple take away here.
Life Application Commentary: We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was because he doesn't tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes (see Galatians 4:13-15). Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. Three times Paul prayed for healing and did not receive it. He received, however, things far greater because he received greater grace from God, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others. In addition, it benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. God, according to his sovereign plan, doesn't heal some believers of their physical ailments. We don't know why some are spared and others aren't. God chooses according to his divine purposes. Our task is to pray, to believe, and to trust. Paul is living proof that holy living and courageous faith do not ensure instant physical healing. When we pray for healing, we must trust our bodies to God's care. We must recognize that nothing separates us from his love (Romans 8:35-39) and that our spiritual condition is always more important than our physical condition.
This is such an important truth to discuss. So many attribute difficulties to Satan when it's actually God at times. So, they end up rebuking God… they resist him. We see with Paul that he didn't resist. He accepted his very troubling situation as it was given to him by God.
My friend James replied to an opposing view on Facebook by saying:
God sent evil spirits to do His bidding, to the point of even personally sending lying spirits to deceive the Jewish prophets SO THAT they would prophesy falsely. I am amazed at the ignorance that abounds on the realities of spiritual warfare.
It’s pure love that will result in a perfect Father functioning in ways that confound us as mere humans. It doesn’t make sense to us at times, but God will work contrary to common sense! God will actually blind eyes of people so they can't be saved! God is SO DIFFERENT than we realize.
James also said:
I believe it was the reformer, Martin Luther, who said that the devil is God's devil. He is on a tether but it is a rather long one. The only place of protection and safety is in the true knowledge of God as revealed through Jesus Christ (Aslan is no tame lion!).
We can't presume how a father would act based on our human understanding. That's the point. We may want a father to act a certain way… but, we have to remember, God is not human. He doesn't play by our rules. His method of fathering is way different than ours… and his method will create shock, awe, fear, intimacy and a myriad of other emotions in us.
God the Father did many, many things that an earthy father would never do.
We can’t attempt to define what a good father is by what a human father would do.
We can't make God into our image, we were made in his. What we might call abuse, God might call love. Was it abuse to allow a fish to swallow Jonah? Was it abuse to kill all of mankind except for a few on the ark? Was it abuse to allow John to be boiled in oil? Was it abuse for God not to stop the terror attacks on 9/11? Is it abuse when he doesn’t answer our most urgent prayers? No. God is love—always.
Let me ask you this: If you were staring into the fires of Hell, would you, as a loving father, throw anybody in there? God will. And his love surpasses anything we've ever known.
This is a raw, timely message to the church regarding the risk necessary to see revival come to a region.
I'd like to encourage you to read Piece of Cake which is a guide for those who are called to move into ministry—but are nervous and hesitant.
In the midst of writing from the prayer room, I found myself compelled to share some of my journey with you—the successes and failures, the joys and the troubles.
There will always be extreme pressure to adjust your vision, sometimes ever so slightly, to be more appealing to others, but it’s this adjustment that will put your entire mission at jeopardy.
I’ll just say it—when God gives you your mandate, you must be both humble and stubborn—and no matter how humble you are, your stubborn disposition will invite trouble. Convincing arguments from wonderful people can lead you to compromise. Don’t do it. Love people in your stubborn, unmoving determination to obey God. In ministry, there are negotiables and non-negotiables. Never move on the non-negotiable vision God has called you to steward.
I believe there is a remnant, a very small army of prayer-devoted awakeners, who will respond to the mission God put into my spirit years ago.
So, what is the risk? Most would say, “Just go for it! Develop a ministry that gathers together those end-time firebrands!”
I absolutely agree, and we are attempting to do just that. But, there is significant risk when we consider what we are talking about here.
The purpose of this article is to help you eliminate fears and compromises as you develop your ministry. A fulfilled mission is required!
Mission ConfusionOne of the most difficult barriers to overcome when developing a ministry according to a fresh but unfamiliar vision is the “supposed to’s.”
In our Western church culture, there are numerous focuses, ministries, attitudes and functions that are just “supposed to” be a significant part of the ministry. When attention isn’t given to what others presume are non-negotiable, discord and accusation can quickly enter the camp. Many leaders (most) will diplomatically, democratically attempt to avoid discord by entertaining these arguments in the name of unity. However, the result is false-unity around the desires of people instead of true unity around the mandates of God. How can you tell the difference? False unity is inclusive of all, true unity requires agreement that most are unwilling to adhere to.
Under Moses, there was accusation that he was most interested in his vision to enter the Promised Land, and that he wasn’t concerned for his people and their safety. Their arguments were convincing—and they won the argument—and then died in the desert.
I once went through a trying season that highlights this point very well.
Our mandate has always been unique. As a ministry of reformation, it is by design entertaining disruption and recalibration, and this will always cause trouble. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that God gave me a very clear prophetic word when I was leading a ministry in Colorado to transition from ministering to people to ministering to him. I was to vertically focus on God and draw others into that encounter with me. That vision is quite offensive as it takes the primary focus off of people and puts it on God.
As a result, our ministry would not look like a typical one and would not focus on many of the expected ministries that you find in other churches and ministries. When we went through our trying time, there were some amazing friends who were wired a bit differently, and who were seeking some ministry focuses that were good, but not what we were to facilitate. There was confusion in the camp as I was running one way and they wanted to run in a slightly different direction.
It was presumed that our church, or any church, was “supposed to” be pastor led with a focus on community. Revival Church was Apostle led with a focus on intercession. Mostly vertical with a little horizontal. Our friends saw a lack of focus on community, and the lack of pastoral ministry, as a problem while we saw it as intentional and core to our mission. I’m so blessed to have Barbara Yoder as our spiritual covering. She and her team have gone to great lengths to communicate that their church is not a “family church” but rather a regional equipping center. They are key in the reformation from one system to another. The family church is the expected norm today, and it does truly take quite an effort of vision casting to break through that expectation.
To see reformation, you will have to work hard to cast the vision, and then to stay true to it. Our culture of fiery intercession and equipping awakeners has resulted in a surprising and deep community of people that love one another and who are keeping their gaze upon the Lord together! We have burning ones who pray as their primary ministry, and enjoy doing it with friends and family around them.
At the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, you don’t see a lot of hanging out for the sake of hanging out, but you do see people in the prayer room together ministering to the Lord. That culture is a problem for those who don’t crave to pray, but can you imagine IHOP bending to develop a culture that doesn’t emphasize prayer? It’s nonsensical. But, it’s only nonsensical now because they have gone through much trial and trouble to set their culture. They stayed true to the mandate even when it was confusing to more traditional Christians.
ResourcesWhen you adhere to God’s risky vision, you are at great risk of losing the resources of the majority. Since an apostolic spirit of reformation is initiating change to the status quo, the high majority of those who still value the status quo will not invest in your vision.
The cash flow of your church or ministry is absolutely at risk of slowing to a crawl. Are you OK with that? Pastors may have to surrender their security and salaries, get secular jobs and trust that God will truly provide—because many people will stop giving.
They will also not show up. They won’t run with you. Are you OK with that or will you look for a happy medium that’s appealing to the majority?
If you pray for a remnant, don’t be surprised when a remnant shows up—and the majority leaves. I absolutely do want many to contend with us for revival, but, I am willing to sacrifice their investment for the sake of staying true to our mission.
I have a lot of weaknesses. That’s not false-humility, it’s true. Just ask my wife! However, I am convinced that I am skilled just enough to grow a church, with the right team, to possibly 250. We had a church consultant years ago that said we had what it took to grow a church to 300-400.
Why and I revealing this? To let you know how easy it might be to sacrifice the mission for the sake of personal satisfaction.
A church of 250 would ensure that I would have a great salary and the ability to pay other key staff members. We would also have significant resources to grow and facilitate additional ministries. We’d have the people and the money to do much. It would feel great to be ‘successful’ in the eyes of man.
In our recent trial, some friends were focused on church growth and on creating a vibrant, exciting atmosphere with people who were deeply connected to one another. This sounds great! And, I actually want this too. However, this is very important—that goal is not the goal. It is actually more of a desire than a strategic focus.
Yes, a lot of people gathering together each week can be very good, but I had already made the decision that we would not compromise the vision for the sake of resources—be it money or people or an energetic environment. I’m willing to run with a remnant and keep investing outside of the ministry to help pay the bills.
The resources this ministry needs are burning, interceding prayer warriors who minister to God night and day. Any compromise of the vision would ensure those people won’t show up. I’ve counted the cost, and that is my goal, no matter how great the challenge or how injurious it is to my ego, energy, time or ability to grow. In fact, the humility and challenge does me good.
Lack of MomentumSmall numbers and minimal buy-in are extremely hard for many people to look past. Staying the course on the way to mission fulfillment will result in that small remnant running with you, and for some, small numbers look like failure. The momentum won’t be there. That in itself can result in lost hope. This is not good! This is why unity around the vision is so critical. You must have buy in from those who are running with you.
Again, the vision is NOT a large group of people. It’s a fulfilled mission! I have to communicate this so false-expectations don’t result in frustration.
At one point in our ministry, our worship team moved on, and this is when we decided to hold off on finding a new one. We decided to lead the services in prayer. I knew numbers would drop, and they did. I also knew that I had a job ahead of me of communicating the true vision. Our vision is not to add people, and I had to make that clear. Anybody, including myself, loves a big crowd. There’s some sense of accomplishment when that happens. Momentum is addictive. However, it really is not the goal. I have led ministries that had decent sized crowds, and a sense of momentum, but I was grieved. We were growing with people who didn’t fully buy into the mission.
Trust me, I’d rather function without visible momentum while running with a few who are all in than with a crowd of people who are mostly there because of the experience. This is a huge point!
That being said, I am looking forward to the day when many buy into the vision and we actually see stadiums filled with burning intercessors! Now, that’s momentum! But, I don’t want to see a stadium filled with people who are only there for the experience. I’d rather buy a ticket to an NFL game at packed stadium and be legitimately entertained than attempt to spiritualize an electric quasi-worship-fest with an arena full of interested but non-invested people.
If we want momentum, we can create momentum. Just gather people around a self-satisfying, entertaining message and slap the name of Jesus on it. Or, you can reveal the costly, deadly message of the cross and call people to a life of inconvenient intercession and spend years and decades creating a prayer movement. I choose the latter.
Invisible Realities are Invisible NonethelessThe true church is a supernatural church. When you start leading people into the invisible, you will lose those who walk by sight and not by faith.
I often counsel pastors and others to check on who really is and who is not with them. Is their team invested in the vision? The way to do this is simple—throw a prayer meeting and develop a prayer culture. Create an environment for your leaders where only those who are walking in the spirit can keep up with you. Those who are living according to the flesh, or who are leaning on their own understanding instead of living in the spirit will be quickly exposed.
The desire for unbiblical community (as opposed to biblical community) is a result of focusing on the visible more than the invisible. I regularly encourage people to get their satisfaction from the invisible, spiritual realm primarily—be with God and encounter him daily! The person that truly follows that advice is rare indeed.
True, biblical community actually exists in the spirit realm! In the invisible realm!
The problem with leading people into the invisible realm? Those people have to invest radically into a life of consecration, fervent prayer and going deep in God. Those who don’t do this won’t even understand where you are going or how to follow. Leading a spiritual church requires a spiritual people. For those are are invested at a lesser level, they will struggle, and usually leave. It is hard to lead a supernatural church.
Understand, I’m not talking about a church where the supernatural manifests in the natural, I mean a supernatural church that exists in the invisible realm. Those who truly walk in the spirit aren’t focused on physical manifestations nearly as much as they are encountering God in the spirit.
It feels quite spiritual to cry out for God to manifest in our natural realm, but his desire is for us to manifest in his supernatural realm. The call isn’t “on heaven as it is on earth,” but “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Not so Friendly FireThere is a temptation to minimize the cost when moving out into a mission. However, a revolution is bloody. It’s not for the weak minded, or those who are looking for personal affirmation or a lot of friends. You absolutely will be slandered, attacked, accused, talked about, mocked and ridiculed. When you don’t lead the way that others believe you should, trouble follows.
The reason this point is so important to understand is that the enemy is extremely proficient at using the fear of friendly fire to keep leaders in alignment with his unholy plans.
You better be good at separating out people and devils! We cannot wrestle against flesh and blood. It’s extremely important for me to be able to easily, without issue, give those who have wounded me a big hug if I ever saw them again! That is the goal! The friendly fire will come, often through well meaning people who just don’t know how to facilitate their grievances. If you are afraid of the attack, you will compromise your mission before you even begin.
False-expectations will lead people to, at times, become quite fierce in their resistance. Since you are bringing reformation to a system they may value, you better get ready for a spiritual battle!
Gossip is revenge. I often teach on this, and I mention that I can most always feel the spirit of gossip, even when I have no natural indicators that its taking place. It’s a spirit of witchcraft, and I am very alert to that demon.
I’ll be very raw and honest with you. It’s grieving, but nonetheless a reality in my life—I am gossiped about a lot. I feel it. My family feels it. The wounds are real. It’s usually spiritualized gossip—wonderful people sharing their concerns about our ministry’s lack of ‘balance’ with other wonderful people. The spirit of Absalom is crafty—it highlights often accurate analysis about a leader, and it devises a plan to cause what they want to come to pass—or else.
You cannot avoid this! Stay humble and full of love. I was talking to a national leader once about a website that was fully devoted to communicating the author’s issues with him. It was vile. He even secured the domain of that leader’s name! He was intent on exposing and destroying. He was frustrated, mad, hurt and in disagreement with this leader. He used scripture to “back up” his claims and gathered other people around him to discredit the leader.
What was the leader’s response me when I asked him about it? He said God sent that man as a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble. Friendly fire turned to good!
Mike Bickle at IHOP has regularly been accused of not caring about people or creating an environment where people can socially connect with one another. What his accusers didn’t understand was that God was requiring him to develop a reformed culture where ministry to God was primary, and any ministry that stole focus from that had to be tabled until it could be developed in such a way that it supported the prayer movement.
Mike wasn’t anti-community, he was anti-distraction. He was guarding the main thing. However, the assaults against him have been merciless. Thank God, Mike has stayed the course and hasn’t compromised the mission of intercession for the nations.
High Potential of FailureIf you fear failure, you better find another line of work!
I’ll give you a glimpse into my book Piece of Cake where I address this issue in detail. Keep in mind, it’s a rough draft and I will be adding to it as I get closer to completing the book:
Yes, you are going to fail. Go ahead and wrestle with it now, you can’t avoid it. I don’t mean ultimate failure, of course. But, I do mean that you will pray much, do your best to gain insight from God, consider your best options, seek wisdom from others and then move out with at least a measure of confidence—and you will experience failure!
Most young ministers crave for others to presume them to be successful and steady with a pipeline directly into the command center of Heaven. The reality? We see in part. We understand little. We have clarity on a small part of the big picture, and when we initiate action, others will watch as we stumble and struggle. Are you OK with that?
Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.” Quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley (2001) by Christine Finn. p. 90
Your job is not to be so careful that you avoid failure, it’s to be instant in obedience! In fact, failure is sweet when you learn how to handle the pressure it brings. Failure is an effective and desirable teacher. You may actually find yourself enjoying the various failures you experience, as a researcher would in a laboratory, in your pursuit toward efficiency and success. Really, the main thing standing in the way of the sweetness of failure is pride. If our goal is to impress people instead of developing ministries that set them free, we have no business even considering entering into a ministry project. We need to mature a little bit more first.
One of the most prevalent issues that I come across on a regular basis is the fear of missing God. Often people feel led to initiate a ministry, or to make a move in that direction, and they are afraid of being outside of God’s plan. This is a legitimate concern, but fear should not drive us. Wisdom should.
There was a time when I was living the life as a youth pastor in a church in the San Diego area. It was amazing! I was at the beach every Thursday and had a stress free, invigorating position in the church. I had full liberty to develop the youth department according to my vision and ideas. After a year and a half in that church I was offered a position in a large church in the Dallas area. It was a completely different environment, and making such a move would be a huge decision. I felt I had confirmation and I was excited about the possibilities this new opportunity presented, but I was afraid of missing God.
A good friend of mine gave me some of the most simple yet most profound and life changing advice I had ever received. He simply quoted scripture and said, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.”
The revelation was instant. If I was living a righteous life, and was making righteous decisions, God would order my steps—even if and when I ever made a misstep! The fear and pressure of making a wrong decision lifted off of me! I have used that counsel countless times in my life sense. When I feel led to make a decision, I ensure I’m living in righteousness and am doing my due diligence through prayer and seeking counsel, and then I step! I trust that God will direct my steps, and if I’m off track a little bit, he will lovingly guide me back. It’s really a glorious way to live!
As I do this, I am fully confident that a lot of sweet failure is ahead of me, and I learn how to stay joyful and teachable as I learn from every ministry experiment.
Keep in mind, I am not advising a haphazard life. That will only cause you unnecessary frustration. Measure your decisions and step according to wisdom as you live in the spirit, and refuse to fear knowing that both temporary failures and ultimate victory are both ahead!
I’ve heard it said that we should make quick, pretty good decisions as opposed to calculated, perfect ones. Using this book as an example, I could have pulled out various resources, created a perfect outline, pondered it for a few months and eventually start writing. But, instead, my quick, pretty good decision has resulted in writing chapter two just one day after I started designing and writing the book. If my schedule allows, I can have this entire book written, in less than perfect but fully acceptable form, in just a few days! I’m literally sitting here in the prayer room unsure of what I will write next, but that’s OK. My goal is to pour out my heart, get the message out and move on to the next project sooner than later.
I have no fear of failure. Many will enjoy this book, many won’t get past the first chapter and many will think it’s a ridiculous concept and never pick it up. That is OK! There are people who will be unlocked into their destiny and that is all that matters!
I’ll share another failure with you. I value the advance of the Kingdom through church and house of prayer planting. I personally love the process of starting with nothing and watching God build a ministry that truly touches lives.
While leading Revival Church in the Detroit region, my family and I moved about thirty minutes north by the apple orchards. It is a different environment than where our church is, and I felt the birthing and planting bug start to buzz in me again. So, we planted Revival Church North in my living room.
We met for several weeks on Sunday mornings and drew a handful of interested people, but, I could sense early on that the necessary traction wasn’t there. Just as quickly as I decided to plant the church, I punted. It was fourth down and we could go for it or we could admit failure and move on to the next project. If I was walking in pride, I would have fought to keep it going, but, rather, it was easy for me to let it go. That plant failed. So what? Clearly it wasn’t meant to be, and that’s OK. Believe it or not, I lost literally zero emotional energy through that process. I woke up the next day and refocused, prayed more and talked to God about next steps. There was still much burning in me and there are missions to attend to.
Thomas Edison said, “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.” Statement in a press Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (conference (1929), as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with 1987) by James D. Newton, p. 24
If there is a need that you are picking up on, get to work! Trial and error are both your friend! Don’t allow a spirit of insignificance to keep you from being the one that God wants to use to bring transformation, whether it’s in leading a Sunday School class, developing a Kingdom business, starting a church or doing anything else God is leading you to do!
Remember Gideon? All he knew was that he was the weakest and the least, yet all God called him was mighty man of valor! Gideon was cowardly, as was his entire community. They were in hiding from their enemy, afraid of losing their crops, their livelihood.
Judges 6:14-16 (ESV) 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
This is God’s call to you! Don’t fear! Don’t fear failure! God had ordered your steps you mighty man of valor! Don’t wait for others to affirm you, you will be waiting for decades possibly! Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Gideon advanced with one percent of the army available to him and told them to blow their trumpets and smash their jars. That doesn’t sound like a good plan at all, but it was what God led them to do. God has a Gideon’s army waiting for you to have the courage to respond immediately with an imperfect plan and an insufficient army to lead them into their destiny!
Remember that failure is an event, not a person. ~Zig Ziglar
THE CHURCH IS BREECH
If you have been following the ministry recently you know that I’m zeroed in on a critical issue—an issue, in my opinion, that can result in the further fracture of the church, or in a powerful reformation that will shock the world.
Sunday at our Revival Church staff meeting, there was a strong prophetic word that must be given attention.
The message was that the church is in a time of massive transition, much like you’d find in a delivery room. When the mother is transitioning into the process of birth the room is filled with chaos and even confusion for the untrained, nervous or unprepared.
We are seeing this same chaos and confusion in the church today. People are scattering, searching for traction, for fresh new life that they sense is near.
Then, the person who gave the message declared, “The church is breech! The church is breech!”
Of course, a breech delivery is a cause for serious concern. The chance of death to the coming baby is much greater than in a normal, head first birth.
Immediately, God revealed to me what the word meant. What the meaning of a breech church was.
The confusion, frustration and wounding that’s impacting so many Christians is resulting in an intentional divorce from pastors and leaders. It’s a movement that either greatly minimizes or even renounces governmental church leadership.
It’s a feet first movement. The church is breech.
A common cause for a breech delivery is prematurity. Premature babies tend to deliver breech, and we need to consider this for the church. We can’t allow our dissatisfaction and impatience to cause us to move out ahead of leadership.
Many believe this chaotic transition, this reformation in the church is the answer to their frustrations and pains that they experienced in the organized church. They feel it’s a transition out of body life and away from human leaders.
That is a devastating and terribly incorrect analysis.
The coming reformation will in fact highlight God’s established apostolic leaders and will call the church to rally around them in radical unity and advance into the darkness of the world.
Further, there’s an incorrect mindset that every Believer is identical. That we all have equal giftings and equal authority in every situation. Usually this idea is embraced as a defense measure after feeling slighted by Christian leaders. I understand the pain that this can bring, but the answer isn’t to artificially level the playing field. God loves us all passionately, but he does flow through us differently. Our abilities and responsibilities vary.
Those with a gift of healing have a greater grace to heal people. People with the gift of helps can function in that role much more easily and efficiently than others. If someone has an ordination from God into a prophetic office, he or she will be receiving information that most others won’t. Apostles have breakthrough ability that’s unique to that office.
As we embrace true biblical order, and understand that we can’t cut off the heads (small ‘h’ vs. the capitol ‘H’ reserved for God alone—God is the Head and he establishes heads of ministries) of God’s ordained leaders simply because they have disappointed us.
Man will always disappoint, but it’s God’s wisdom that has resulted in the establishment of significant responsibilities, anointings and missions through them. It’s always been this way, cover to cover in Scripture. God raises up men and women to lead. We can’t avoid it.
So, it’s time to gather together in love, passion and mission as God readies a massive advance of God’s government that lies just on the other side of our current birthing room season of transition.