No more excuses: Don’t let an orphan spirit keep you from fulfilling your destiny!
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
It’s true that spiritual fathers are needed, and it’s also true that sons and daughters must discover their true identities—and those identities are not dependent on whether fathers appear in their lives or not. It’s much deeper than that.
The sins of the fathers are significant, and they impact the succeeding generations dramatically. The call is for every one of us as sons or daughters to break off generational destruction and align ourselves with Father God. If we don’t, the devastation will continue. Children of God arise!
…Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? And the LORD says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. Jeremiah 9:12-14
Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.” Jeremiah 9:15-16
This generational problem resulted in judgment then—and we are at risk of judgment again today. Notice that judgment was not due to the father’s sins, but rather to the children’s refusal to break the cycle. The children have the power to cover the sins of their fathers and experience blessing. But, that’s not what happened.
The same story unfolded with Noah:
Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. Genesis 9:20-26
The children had the power to either cover or enjoy the sin of their father. Blessing followed Shem who interceded for his father. A curse followed Canaan who exposed his father.
Children are called to stand in the gap, intercede and cut off the pattern of sin set by their fathers. As we align with our true Father, Jehovah, great blessing will come.
In fact, a major end-time prophecy hinges on the resolution of this problem:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:5-6
Interestingly God reveals that this issue must be fixed, or as in Jeremiah, destruction will come.
The Malachi prophesy resurfaces in the story of John the Baptist:
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will 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 for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:16-17
Did you notice the end-time spirit of Elijah, as manifested through John the Baptist, had, and still has, a two-fold mission:
- Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.
- Turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.
This isn’t mostly about dads and kids rediscovering their lost friendships. It has to do with aligning ourselves, as disobedient children, with the spirit of Wisdom, with God himself.
What’s an orphan to do?
I absolutely validate the desire that is within us as Christians to have earthly, spiritual fathers—whether they are biological or not.
I remember many years ago when I was extremely young in the Lord that a strong desire for a mentor overcame me. I asked a youth pastor if he would be that to me, and he was visibly taken aback. He said he had never been asked that before.
Well, he never did follow through on that, and I want to share with you why that was the best thing for me. God’s best for me was to not have an earthly spiritual father at that point in my life.
I grew up in a phenomenal family with an amazing mom and an incredibly spiritually strong father. However, at the time of this story, I had moved from Missouri to Ohio and was very much alone on a new adventure as a young man. I had recently encountered God in dramatic fashion and I craved a deeper relationship with him. I also yearned for spiritual growth.
I didn’t understand it then, but I believe God wanted me to understand how he would be using weak, inexperienced children, many of whom are spiritual orphans without a godly human mentor, to change the world.
What I did know what this: I was burning so hot inside, and my vision was so consuming, that there was no way I was going to wait for a spiritual father to show up in my life. In fact, I knew early on that few fathers would be able to keep pace with me.
Now, of course, there have been many people in my life that have impacted me, and there are others that I highly value and I have submitted myself to. But, to date, I’ve never had a spiritual father other than my natural one.
A lonely venture
From that moment I started blazing trails and advancing very quickly. This child wasn’t waiting for a father because he had already discovered one—Abba!
I ultimately ended up in Manitou Springs, Colorado to plant my first church.
I’ll never forget a life-changing lunch I had with an older, wiser man whom I had just met shortly after moving to Colorado.
He looked the part too. He had a beard and eyes burning with wisdom. A long wooden staff would have completed the picture! He asked me, “John, what is the one thing you want on a personal level as you begin your new church?”
I immediately said, “Well, I’m alone in this new venture. I am craving someone who has the same vision as me, who will run at the same pace with me as we get the church off the ground, and as we go after full blown city transformation.”
His answer is one I’ll never forget: “It will never happen.”
What? Was he serious? He absolutely was.
He said, “God gave you the vision, and he has given it to no one else. You can’t wait for others to lead the charge. That is your job. Others will come along side you and support the vision, but nobody else in the world has that unique, special gift that God himself has given you.”
The wisdom of this fatherly man ensured I wouldn’t be disobedient in my calling by waiting around instead of advancing. There was work to do. You have work to do too. This next section will help you fulfill your calling without waiting around for outside help.
The Gideon Strategy
Are you ready for the strategy to boldly break off an orphan spirit? Great. As I’ve said before, it’s not to wait for spiritual fathers to arrive in your life. Let’s look at Gideon.
The Israelites were under attack and went into hiding. There was no true, bold leader in the camp and the result was insecurity, fear and delay in fulfilling their destiny.
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. Judges 6:1-2
God was the one who gave them over to the enemy, and God would be the one who would give them a strategy to break off their orphan spirit that resulted in a confused identity.
You see, fathers are supposed to nurture and build up, but since Israel forsook their Father, they were left with the opposite—oppression and brokenness.
For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD. Judges 6:3-6
They were orphans who were aimless and lost, but eventually they cried out—to their Father.
Mighty Man of Valor
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:11-12
Keep in mind, God will be using children who break off an orphan spirit to accomplish his purposes—children who are united with their Father. This was true in the story of Gideon, and it’s true today in the end-times. An emerging army of supposed orphans are rising up. They won’t take no for an answer as they advance in their missions with ferocity and boldness as their Heavenly Father leads the way.
With Gideon, God was restoring this beautiful relationship by referring to him according to his true identity. His Father saw him as a mighty man of valor! He didn’t see him the way Gideon saw his self. This revelation comes through a dynamic, growing relationship not with people but with God himself!
What happened next was a critical lesson to be learned. Gideon was confused about the Father/son relationship and God was about to school him.
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13
Gideon incorrectly presumed that the role of a father is to fully alleviate burdens, answer every question and to resolve issues. This isn’t the case. If you are craving a spiritual father, that is good. However, be warned. God the Father will stretch you to your breaking point so you can discover the power and responsibility you have as a child! Fathers point the way and children go.
Check out how God responded to Gideon’s confusion and frustration:
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?” Judges 6:14
Did I not send YOU? God again addressed him according to his true identity, as one who is mighty, and let him know in no uncertain terms—you don’t send me, I send you!
As a spiritual child (quit referring to yourself as an orphan) you have a Father and you are a part of this end-time mission! Go in your might!
Gideon continued in his confusion with another excuse:
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.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:15-16
Gideon felt like the least and the weakest. In fact, he said something quite interesting: I am the least in my father’s house. He had an orphan spirit. He acknowledged rejection and a disappointing relationship with his earthly dad.
What happened next was so important for Gideon. He was learning how to draw from his spiritual Father.
And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” Judges 6:17-18
Please don’t depart…I will stay till you return.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… James 4:8
That’s it! The child noticed the favor of his Father and started into an interactive relationship with him. He had a bad earthly dad. His entire nation had no leader. He was confused. He had an identity crisis. But, something was compelling him. He found One who believed in him, and One who was calling him higher. He found his Dad.
As the drama continues, Gideon’s eyes are opened and he is undone before his Father. He is an orphan no more!
Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. Judges 6:24
He immediately built an altar to God, but there was another altar to deal with—his earthly father’s.
That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” Judges 6:25-26
Children of the end-times will not only discover their true identities as revealed by their true Father and build an altar of worship to him—a spirit of boldness will arise in the children to tear down altars established by the previous generations—altars to Baal that will result in continued bondage and destruction. End-time children won’t wait for their fathers to make things right—they will go to battle and initiate deliverance no matter the cost!
When children tear down altars of old, there will be threats of death! This is the moment of destiny we are looking for! Gideon went from weak and the least to one with an identity of might that was given to him by his Father. His call wasn’t to wait for his earthly father to come around, it was to destroy the generational curse that was devastating him, his dad and the entire nation!
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar. Judges 6:28-32
It was then that Gideon’s dad finally rose up! Gideon’s leadership was clear and God’s leadership was being reestablished in the nation as his dad agreed with the destruction of Baal’s altar. The hearts of father and son were turned!
Gideon was then called Jerubbaal which literally means, “let Baal contend.” Now that’s an identity!
Is there an army of former orphans who refuse to wait for earthly fathers to show up? Is there an army that will discover their true spiritual Father? Is there an army of spiritual children who just might have their names changed as they contend against the spirit of the age? Come on! It’s time!
Children, it’s time to awaken! No more hiding! No more confusion! Get alone with your Father and respond to his call into destiny!
Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. Judges 7:20-21
The miracle? Gideon fulfilled both roles: He discovered his identity as a child of God and he emerged into a spiritual of father who lead companies into destiny. This is your story!
Today’s children are marked to be leaders and fathers who will take cities and rout the enemy.
Yes, you are one of them.
As I said above, I’ve never had a spiritual father. However, there is a very important takeaway for me.
While I am ever learning and endeavor to glean much from the generals of the faith, I have come to understand that nobody I’ve met has been where I am called to go. The same was true for Gideon.
Nobody can lead me into my personal land of Promise except God, my Father.
Others can support the vision and encourage me in the journey, but most of my learning has been one-on-one with my Father—and it has been priceless. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I want to strongly encourage you to read my book, “Piece of Cake.”
It is a practical guide for starting ministries, missions, businesses and other ventures. It will help set you free from the waiting game. You as a child of God, as a mighty person of valor, absolutely can advance with confidence and strength without delay!
You can find the book here: www.johnburton.net/resources
Revival is not a guarantee. In fact, the chances of revival breaking out are extremely low.
Detroit is marked for revival, yet revival is not here. It’s delayed. We have a problem. This is an issue not only for Detroit, but for the nations of the Earth. God has planned revival, but we have not.
First, I have to qualify the comments you are reading in this article. The driving force of my mandate is revival and reformation in the church. As a prophetic messenger, a primary focus of my ministry is calling the church into the fire of revival. That fire will only ignite as the church becomes flexible and ready for momentous change. The church must agree with an inconvenient revolution.
Revival Is A Corporate Mission
Church is corporate. Revival is corporate. Ministry is corporate.
The first point we have to understand is that the pursuit of revival requires a corporate strategy. The mission of the entire church requires the participation of the church. Church is defined by the corporate gathering. It's the ministry of many. Personal desire, personal prayer and personal pursuit does not result in revival—unless it first spreads to a larger unified group of people.
Acts 2:1 (NIV) 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
This is why being together corporately and continually in the church is so important. Satan used God’s principle of unity to start building his church, the Tower of Babel, and God surprisingly revealed that they would accomplish their task—unless he attacked their unity and scattered them. Now, Satan is trying to pay God back by attacking the unity of the church and causing people to scatter. He has also been successful. What is maddening is that God’s strategy of Kingdom advance and revival would also be unstoppable if Christians simply gathered in unity. That’s all it takes! Go to church, minister with passion, embrace corporate mission and go after revival!
Now, many Christians who are unwilling to battle through personal struggles are now convinced that revival can come without devotion to corporate gathering and unity.
Revival is threatened by:
- Inflexible focuses: We live in a society that is extremely independent, and this results in people locking into their own plans with little regard for the dynamic and demanding development of the church. Revival demands our attention.
Acts 1:4 (NIV) 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
Their leader, Jesus, invaded their personal space and their personal plans. He demanded flexibility and that they cancel their plans. Their ideas of ministry were challenged by Jesus and the call was to drop them. Jesus needed all of them to go in another direction, to cancel their plans, to respond even though the reason was not at all clear.
Today, when leadership calls on the church to turn on a dime, to respond corporately, they are usually faced with unresponsiveness due to other personal life focuses. This is a threat to revival.
- Family:When confronted with the call to gather as the church, a very easy excuse is, “I have a family activity to attend.” Little League games, family fun, movies and other family activities are pulling people out of the corporate mission of revival. It’s often said that we are to put God first, family second and ministry third. I strongly disagree. That model leads to a separation, to division, when God is calling for unity. We don’t compartmentalize God, family and ministry. We involve ourselves with all three at the same time.
There used to be a time when families would be in the church every time the doors were open. That was the model. God, family and ministry all happening together, all the time. The revival fueled 24/7 church is coming, and we have to discover now how to implement this model in our families. We’ll be together most every day of the week. This is how it started, this is how it must be again. In fact, if you are intent on prioritizing these three focuses, check out Jesus’ viewpoint in the second passage below! If anything, God and ministry come before family.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Luke 14:25-33 (ESV) 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
- Time & energy: American culture has won. Or, at least it is winning by a huge margin. Revival and the church has lost. Cares of life have nearly destroyed any hope of people having the time and energy to fulfill their call as revival soldiers in the church. The culture of society is driving the church schedule. Churches have waived the white flag of surrender by cancelling and shortening services. This is absolutely tragic. The church’s warriors have willingly gone AWOL due to wrongly prioritized daily focuses. A worn out church body now uses the church for something it was not designed to do—be their servant. They are tired and they use the church to recharge. Only when we take dominion over our schedules, turn off the TV, shut down time and energy thieves and refocus on the main thing will we have the capacity to personally charge up so we can serve the church mission. Check out this powerful warning:
Luke 21:34-36 (ESV) 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
- Church conflicts: It’s better to unify around an imperfect church vision than it is to divide & argue about what is the perfect vision. It’s common to pull back from our devotion to the mission of the church when we don’t fully embrace their strategies. We want it to be done our way, and if it’s not, then we presume we have the option to lessen our commitment. That results in a weakened and threatened mission. In order for revival to come, we must understand this is an ‘all hands on deck’ level mission. Revival needs us. The church needs us. Revival is waiting. We can’t use the church for personal gain, we must serve the church to ensure there is corporate gain and full blown revival. The church struggles because those who are called to serve it are making demands on it to serve them.
- I’ll wait and see: People who adopt this strategy are deeply loved by God, but will most likely miss the full thrust of the impact of the revival and outpouring. The issue is not one of love and acceptance, but rather of function. If we presume that God is going to do the work of revival, our perspective is flawed from the beginning. Our follow through will then also be compromised. Revival is dependent on our determination to initiate it. We aren’t waiting for God, he’s waiting on us. We aren't waiting for revival, revival is waiting for us. We are called to minister, to serve. Revival is calibration to Kingdom life, and that life is marked by Believers doing the work. We heal the sick. We preach the Gospel. Not only do we initiate revival but we also facilitate it. We work and serve God as opposed to expecting ourselves to be served.
Deuteronomy 23:21 (NKJV) 21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.
Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) 60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.
- I don’t fit in: If we understand the definition of ministry, we’ll find there is always a place for us. To minister is to serve. Simply serve and you will find acceptance! The church needs you! Revival needs you! You fit in revival and you fit in the church!
When I was 15 I got my first real job. I was a busboy in a tiny country restaurant. I’ll never forget my first day. It was awful! For those of you who know me you’ll be shocked to know that I was tragically shy and not outgoing whatsoever. There were a few other workers there the day I started my job and I found myself just standing all alone presuming rejection from my new coworkers. One of them looked at me and said, “Hey, you don’t have to stand over there by yourself. Come on over here.”
There are two takeaways from this story. First, I was disqualified relationally by myself, not by the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant welcomed me! Not only was I welcomed, I was hired! I wasn’t rejected, I was accepted! Second, and more importantly, I wasn’t there to develop relationships! I was there to clean dirty dishes off of tables so others could enjoy their stay. I was there to serve. So, the excuse that I didn’t fit in simply didn’t have any bearing on my responsibility. There was a job to do, people to serve and a mission to fulfill. The same is true in the church. Never let this excuse cause you to stop serving. The cause of revival needs us to serve with passion.
If Jesus’ goal was to avoid rejection in the midst of his mission then he would have never made it to the cross, and you and I would be destined for Hell.
Psalm 118:22 (ESV) 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Matthew 8:34 (ESV) 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
John 1:11 (ESV) 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
- I don’t want to: This is the most honest excuse. However it’s rooted in unbelief and a misunderstanding of the importance of the mission. If we truly believed that revival was the biblical norm for all of us, we’d give everything, every moment in the pursuit of it. An apathetic church is putting the mission of revival at great risk. It’s time to awaken to the call of God for the fire of revival to ignite in our nation.
Ezekiel 22:30 (ESV) 30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.
Haggai 1:4-11 (ESV) 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”