Video Podcast: 16 Dangers of the “Positive Christianity” Movement

Watch this video podcast: Are we are forming a culturally acceptable version of God?

 

And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. —Exodus 32:4-6

imageI'll begin by affirming that God absolutely is LOVE! He is good, all the time. However, his goodness may not always register as good on our human grid.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. —1 Corinthians 2:14

There is a rapidly growing aversion to any discussion about God that includes anything that feels negative. The problem? Cover to cover in Scripture we see endless accounts of God displaying His attributes—many of which would not be defined as positive.

Instead of proclaiming the full counsel of Scripture, people today are looking for a buffet Bible when they can load up on chocolate cake and milk shakes while quickly stepping by the peas, carrots and salad.

People want to form a god of their own design as the Israelites did when Moses was meeting with a fearful God. The plan is to sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play.

Today it's nearly impossible (not an exaggeration) to find a church that preaches cutting, hard-core truths of Scripture that break us out of prison and into freedom. If you want to hear about how good God is and little else, then you can pick most any church in the nation.

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill

Sixteen dangers of the ‘positive Christianity' movement

False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step—not a casual one. It's when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn't sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, “How can I benefit from salvation.” It has to be, “Is God worthy of my surrendering all I value to Him?” When we truly know Him in His fullness, in His grace and wrath, in His mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, “You, Lord are worthy of my entire life.”

Misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord—It's stunning to me that so many are renouncing any fear whatsoever, even the fear of the Lord! If we have a view of God that is only positive, we will reject anything that feels negative, and this includes the fear of the Lord. Let's set the record straight—the fear of the Lord is not simply to be in awe of God or to respect Him. Fear of the Lord is translated over and over as terror, to be afraid, to dread. The love of God and the dread of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, His love shines brighter we we realize how fearful He truly is.

That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. —Romans 11:20-22

God is limited—When we eliminate a major part of God's personality and character, we greatly limit our revelation of Him and His ability to move in our lives. God is much more than the leader of some euphoric land of fantasy.

Rejection of judgment (that we need so badly)—I believe one of the most important prayers I can pray is, “God, judge me daily.” For those who reject God's judgment because they perceive it to be negative, their lives will be marked by areas not given access to God's loving calibration. Additionally, our nation is in desperate need of loving judgment from a righteous judge. Judgment is not hatred; it's love. It is deep love. We see this in our own society. We are so touchy-feely that we react in anger when we presume someone to be judging us. However, it's true love that will judge an issue and help someone break free into healing. We must embrace judgment in these dire end times.

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. —Acts 10:42

Rejection of God—This is one of the most serious issues. God absolutely still judges in the New Covenant, and those who reject this will be at risk of attributing judgments of God to Satan. God's wrath is still on the Earth, and we have to understand that much of the trouble we see today has actually been initiated by God—all while many of His followers are rebuking Him and calling Him Satan.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. —John 3:36

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—Even more serious is the risk of blasphemy. I believe we have to be radically opposed to God to fall into this unforgivable sin (I know many wrestle with this, but unpacking it will require more time than we have here), but, the “positive Christianity” movement can nudge people closer to falling into this. When we attribute an act of God to Satan, that is blasphemy, and this occurs often within “positive Christianity.”

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” —Mark 3:28-30

Ignoring calls to battle—If we think God is mostly interested in our safety and happiness, we will deem unnecessary and invasive any call to battle. It's time we mature and understand we are already in the midst of a vicious battle, and it's our calling to fight hard. God really is OK with His children being tortured and killed as martyrs for the sake of other people discovering Jesus, and we should be too. We are end-time soldiers, and this means we have signed up for a life of inconvenience, brokenness and struggle. That negative reality is glorious when we understand what it is unto.

Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: It's not always the devil. How often do people rebuke demons when it's actually God Who caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively, then 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 attacks 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.

Minimized need for intercession—If we think things are getting better and better, as many who support the “positive Christianity” movement do, than we have no need to intercede. However, if we truly understand that some very troubling times are ahead, and God has called us to stand in the gap, then our passion for intercession will skyrocket. We need Abrahams and Jonahs who will see the judgment of God ahead and pray with passion and warn those in its direct path. Our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the Earth in a flood. His wrath remains on those who reject Him today.

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” —Genesis 18:32

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 Stephens to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Sauls are awakened into their destinies.

Universalism—You'd be surprised at how many professing Christians reject any thought of eternity in hell—for anybody! After all, how could a good God cast people into eternal torment? It doesn't register on the grid of “positive Christianity.”

Rejection of tenets of the faith—I'm angered at how many of today's Christians get sad and withdrawn when core tenets of the faith are preached. The cross, hell, fear of the Lord, surrender, brokenness and repentance are minimized as they prefer to focus on how giddy God is about them! We absolutely need a fresh wave of Blood-bought fire-and-brimstone preachers again!

Wrongly discern God's presence and purpose—The presumption is that whenever God is manifesting that the feelings we experience are to be happy, warm and positive. Any manifestation that includes fear of the Lord, conviction, rebuke, challenge or mourning is soundly rejected. If the atmosphere isn't electric, many today check out and disengage.

Using God—A spirit of religion is in this “positive Christianity” movement. The thought is that God is there for our enjoyment and must respond to our cries for satisfaction. We determine the experience instead of letting God use us as He sees fit.

Self-centeredness—Related to using God, instead of focusing on the devastation in the world and our responsibility to bring resolution to it, those in the “positive Christianity” movement are focused on self.

Forsaking our anointing by always being nice—Boy, we have to stop this. We think God always has perma-smile with a twinkle sparkling off of His grin. If we think of God in this light, we'll attempt to do the same. It can manifest many different ways. For example, instead of boldly preaching repentance and the terror of hell, we might just smile and be sweet and sugary by encouraging people to take baby steps toward Jesus. We have become so tentative and passive when dealing with severe threats against the church, such as the homosexual agenda, the false-grace movement and others. We need prophets to rise up and preach judgment and repentance again!

Sometimes we need to look someone in the eye, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and say with no hint of a smile that they are destined for hell. Repent!

Conclusion

Of course, there are limitless positives about God and our relationship with Him. However, we don't want to stop there. We must trust Him enough to embrace Him in His fullness.

The judge is coming, and He will start with the church. How many will fall away when He arrives, disappoints and confuses people by looking nothing like the god of their own design?

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at JohnBurton.net.

Should we reject fear in all forms? Does God affirm certain types of fear?

We can damage our relationship with God if we reject all forms of fear.

imageAll too often I hear voices rising up aggressively against any form of fear, or what they would define as fear. That rejection is resulting in the eradication of core, foundational, scriptural truths—verses, principles and even the words of Jesus are ignored or twisted to serve an unbiblical view of love.

God used both positive and negative motivation when calling people to him—both his tangible love and literal fear are motivators to keep us in him.

If we reject healthy fear, or the fear of the Lord, we will sometimes quickly and sometimes gradually fall into a lukewarm, compromised state.

I want to invite you to read my book The Terror of Hell. I have made it available for FREE online. You can see it HERE.

I came out of that God given encounter with terror at such a high level that I almost went mad. Literally. The extremes in the spirit realm are so intense, both positively and negatively, that our natural man cannot handle it.

The fear I experienced in that encounter was from God. It was horrifying, but necessary. It was appropriate. It has never left me.

THREE TYPES OF FEAR

Healthy Fear

Healthy fear results from a analysis of a situation and a reaction to keep us out of harm’s way. The analysis can be well thought out and detailed, such as the development of a plan to save for college and complete a degree program to avoid the threat of poverty. It can also be instant and reactive. I remember falling asleep at the wheel and suddenly realizing I was veering into oncoming traffic. My heart skipped a beat and I was scared out of my mind. I pulled over and slapped my face and reenergized myself!

We also see the call to healthy fear cover to cover in the Bible as God provides warnings of tragedy, such as being eternally separated from him in Hell. Just as we would have a healthy fear of poverty or falling asleep at the wheel, it makes no sense that the principle wouldn’t be applicable regarding Hell.

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:1-3

If the church is asleep at the wheel, someone needs to sound an alarm that impending doom is drawing near!

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5

Note that the above verse isn’t talking about a reverence for God, but rather it’s saying the be very afraid of where he can send you!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:22

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Again, it is healthy to receive the warning of such a horrific possibility. It is absolutely healthy to fear Hell just as it is healthy to fear burning your finger on the stove.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42

It’s impossible to dismiss healthy fear and still read and receive the truth in scripture. Time and again God shocks us with insight into a horrible possible future for those who are not truly his. This healthy fear results in a deeper analysis of one’s commitment to Jesus. It no longer is possible to be casual in our relationship with him.

The parable of the talents is an excellent picture of healthy fear.

“‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 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. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:28-30

Jesus was using healthy fear as a motivation to live productively, with focus and sobriety. Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction to the lazy servant was due to unhealthy fear that caused him to bury his talent! Let’s take a look at that.

SLAVISH FEAR

The lazy servant exhibited slavish fear, when instead he should have had healthy fear of Hell on his mind.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,' he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' Matthew 25:24-25

He was afraid. That was slavish fear. His focus was on self-preservation instead of honoring his master, and that focus on self resulted in a very destructive type of fear.

Slavish fear kills love. This is the type of fear that is being addressed in 1 John:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Love involves the self giving of one for the highest good of another. ~The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

When we truly love, our focus is not on our punishment, it’s on the object of our affection! If we lack love, we will fear punishment because we are selfish and inwardly focused.

Perfect love does not drive out healthy fear or the fear of the Lord. But it does absolutely drive out slavish fear.

Slavish fear is a self-centered expression that comes when we are overwhelmed with the thought of personal loss. The fear of man, for example, is slavish fear. We become overprotective, defensive and self-preserving, which results in extreme timidity as we distrust those we presume have the power to hurt us. Slavish fear manifests as anxiety, dread and panic. It’s crippling.

Slavish fear results when we feel powerless and threatened. This is where the love of God comes in! We surrender control to him from a place of faith and love and slavish fear begins to dissipate.

to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

This verse reveals the battle to be free from slavish fear, from fear of our enemies, as we live in the fear of the Lord.

FEAR OF THE LORD

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:120

The love of God and the fear of God are inseparable. The fear of the Lord results in us living a circumspect life from a place of loving devotion.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15

John Bevere had the privilege of meeting with Jim Bakker of PTL fame in prison after his conviction for mishandling money. John asked Jim, “When did you stop loving God?” Jim replied, “John, I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. Proverbs 16:6

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. Proverbs 14:2

 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27

Experiencing God’s love is insufficient (and radically incomplete) if it doesn’t result in the fear of the Lord. God’s love draws us close and the fear of God keeps us on guard. Fear of God is a fountain of life!

Often it is presumed that the fear of the Lord simply means reverence of the Lord. That is a woefully incomplete definition. Time and again, the fear of the Lord is translated as reverence and terror!

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, Isaiah 8:13

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31

In Acts 9:31, the word “fear” translates not as reverence, but as terror:

Transliteration: phobos

(to be put in fear); alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

When God makes himself known, terror will strike. How could it not? The voice of the Father resulted in terror in the disciples:

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don't be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:5-8

I think it’s interesting that this was an expression of the Father’s love! God the Father was expressing his love for his Son, and the result was terror! Again, what else, in such an overwhelming encounter, could be expected?

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.  Psalm 19:9

Sixteen dangers of the positive Christianity movement

Are we are forming a culturally acceptable version of God?

And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Exodus 32:4-6

I’ll begin by affirming that God absolutely is LOVE! He is good, all the time. However, his goodness may not always register as good on our human grid.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14

There is a rapidly growing aversion to any discussion about God that includes anything that feels negative. The problem? Cover to cover in scripture we see endless accounts of God displaying his attributes—many of which would not be defined as positive.

Instead of proclaiming the full counsel of scripture, people today are looking for a buffet Bible when they can load up on chocolate cake and milk shakes while quickly stepping by the peas, carrot and salad.

People want to form a god of their own design as the Israelites did when Moses was meeting with a fearful God. The plan is to sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play.

Today it’s nearly impossible (not an exaggeration) to find a church that preaches cutting, hard core truths of scripture that break us out of prison and into freedom. If you want to hear about how good God is and little else, than you can pick most any church in the nation.

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill

Sixteen dangers of the positive Christianity movement

False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step, not a casual one. It’s when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn’t sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, “How can I benefit from salvation.” It has to be, “Is God worthy of me surrendering all I value to him?” When we truly know him in his fullness, in his grace and wrath, in his mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, “You, Lord are worthy of my entire life.”

Misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord—It’s stunning to me that so many are renouncing any fear whatsoever, even the fear of the Lord! If we have a view of God that is only positive, we will reject anything that feels negative, and this includes the fear of the Lord. Let’s set the record straight—the fear of the Lord is not simply to be in awe of God or to respect him. Fear of the Lord is translated over and over as terror, to be afraid, to dread. The love of God and the dread of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, his love shines brighter we we realize how fearful he truly is.

That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:20-22

God is limited—When we eliminate a major part of God’s personality and character, we greatly limit our revelation of him, and his ability to move in our lives. God is much more than the leader of some euphoric land of fantasy.

Rejection of judgment (that we need so badly)—I believe one of the most important prayers I can pray is, “God, judge me daily.” For those who reject God’s judgment because they perceive it to be negative, their lives will be marked by areas not given access to God’s loving calibration. Additionally, our nation is in desperate need of loving judgment from a righteous judge. Judgment is not hatred, it’s love. It’s deep love. We see this in our own society. We are so touchy/feely that we react in anger when we presume someone to be judging us. However, it’s true love that will judge an issue and help someone break free into healing. We must embrace judgment in these dire end-times.

 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42

Rejection of God—This is one of the most serious issues. God absolutely still judges in the New Covenant, and those who reject this will be at risk of attributing judgments of God to Satan. God’s wrath is still on the Earth, and we have to understand that much of the trouble we see today has actually been initiated by God—all while many of his followers are rebuking him and calling him Satan.

 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—Even more serious is the risk of blasphemy. I believe we have to be radically opposed to God to fall into this unforgivable sin (I know many wrestle with this, but unpacking it will require more time than we have here), but, the positive Christianity movement can nudge people closer to falling into this. When we attribute an act of God to Satan, that is blasphemy, and this occurs often within positive Christianity.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30

Ignoring calls to battle—If we think God is mostly interested in our safety and happiness, we will deem unnecessary and invasive any call to battle. It’s time we mature and understand we are already in the midst of a vicious battle, and it’s our calling to fight hard. God really is OK with his children being tortured and killed as martyrs for the sake of other people discovering Jesus, and we should be too. We are end-time soldiers, and this means we have signed up for a life of inconvenience, brokenness and struggle. That negative reality is glorious when we understand what it is unto.

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.

Minimized need for intercession—If we think things are getting better and better, as many who support the positive Christianity movement do, than we have no need to intercede. However, if we truly understand some very troubling times are ahead, and God has called us to stand in the gap, then our passion for intercession will skyrocket.  We need Abraham’s and Jonah’s who will see the judgment of God ahead and pray with passion and warn those in his direct path. Our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the earth in a flood. His wrath remains on those who reject him today.

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:32

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.

Universalism—You’d be surprised at how many professing Christians reject any thought of eternity in Hell—for anybody! After all, how could a good God cast people into eternal torment? It doesn’t register on the grid of positive Christianity.

Rejection of tenets of the faith—I’m angered at how today’s Christians get sad and withdrawn when core tenets of the faith are preached. The cross, hell, fear of the Lord, surrender, brokenness and repentance are minimized as they prefer to focus on how giddy God is about them! We absolutely need a fresh wave of blood bought fire and brimstone preachers again!

Wrongly discern God’s presence & purpose—The presumption is that whenever God is manifesting that the feelings we experience are to be happy, warm and positive. Any manifestation that includes fear of the Lord, conviction, rebuke, challenge or mourning is soundly rejected. If the atmosphere isn’t electric, many today check out and disengage.

Using God—A spirit of religion is in this positive Christianity movement. The thought is that God is there for our enjoyment and must respond to our cries for satisfaction. We determine the experience instead of letting God use us as he sees fit.

Self-centeredness—Related to using God, instead of focusing on the devastation in the world and our responsibility to bring resolution to it, those in the positive Christianity movement are focused on self.

Forsaking our anointing by always being nice—Boy, we have to stop it. We think God always has perma-smile with a twinkle sparkling off of his grin. If we think of God in this light, we’ll attempt to do the same. It can manifest many different ways. For example, instead of boldly preaching repentance and the terror of Hell, we might just smile and be sweet and sugary by encouraging people to take baby steps toward Jesus.  We have become so tentative and passive when dealing with severe threats against the church such as the homosexual agenda, the false-grace movement and others. We need prophets to rise up and preach judgment and repentance again!

Sometimes we need to look someone in the eye, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and say with no hint of a smile that they are destined for Hell. Repent!

Conclusion

Of course, there are limitless positives about God and our relationship with him. However, we don’t want to stop there. We must trust him enough to embrace him in his fullness.

The judge is coming, and he will start with the church. How many will fall away when he arrives, disappoints and confuses people by looking nothing like the god of their own design?

A coming civil war in the church—centered around the fear of the Lord

A civil war in the church is drawing near—and it will be centered around the fear of the Lord.

Before I get into the meat of this message, I want to address something that I’m sure many of you have wondered about.

Yes, I am absolutely intentional regarding my “unbalanced” approach on the end-times, the church and the call to reformation. The reason is simple—the situation in the church is so dire that an urgent, radical response is necessary.

We cannot casually sit back and initiate Christian small talk as we seek to find common ground anymore. Billions are headed to Hell, and in their ranks are a very high percentage of those who call themselves Christians.

Many believe the church is mostly doing well with a few minor, non-essential issues to address, and an upgrade in positive, encouraging messages will help nudge us back on course. A focus on God’s goodness and love alone will be enough to convince people to veer back on course. If that were the case, I would absolutely be more subtle in my approach. However, it is not. The church is way off balance, and an extremely weighty counterbalance is necessary.

I let my son Skylar get behind the wheel of the car for the first time in a parking lot the other day to begin to teach him how to drive. He was getting used to the steering, gas pedal and brake responsiveness, and, under my watchful eye in the passenger seat, he would jerk the car left and right, brake too hard, step on the gas too quickly and give us quite a ride. My response? Subtle, encouraging words to straighten it out, to ease up on the gas, to brake more softly. He was on the right track, but was simply learning how to stay on it.

That is not where the church is today. Things are not mostly good. We are not on the right track.

How would you react if the person driving your car decided to go the wrong way down a highway, at 100 miles per hour, at night with the headlights off, with his eyes closed and not a care in the world?

You would scream! You would grab the wheel! You would not passively, subtly encourage him to straighten it out. You would not talk about how lovely an evening it is. It wouldn’t be the right time to teach him how to parallel park or how to change the oil. You both are near death and immediate, continuous cries and alarms must be sounded! Not only are you near death, but others will be crushed by your wayward vehicle as they come over the next hill!

The church is also near death—and is putting many others at risk. Many in the church are on their way to Hell—and they have no idea. This is why I sound alarm after alarm after alarm. If you choose to turn a deaf ear, so be it.

However, I challenge you to be receptive and responsive, and not shut out the warnings of the Lord, no matter how irritating and repetitive they are. In fact, join me in my cry. Cry out REPENT! Turn around!

Matthew 3:1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Preparea the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

A Coming Civil War

I needed to explain what I did in the opening section to help you understand what I’m going to share next.

Entire popular movements today are in the wrong lane, going the wrong way and putting the church at risk of eternal death.

We are going way to far with our ecumenically driven strategies of unity within the church. The false-love movement that focuses on friendships and affirmation has led to a false-unity movement where we presume anybody who goes to church and professes Christ to be a legitimate Christian worthy of our alliance.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again—I will love everybody with the fiery love of Jesus, but I absolutely, unapologetically refuse with bold resolve to unite with anybody who isn’t carrying their cross, dying daily and burning hot for Jesus Christ.

I do not presume people to be saved simply because they say they are.

We are all in process, and as long as we, in our weakness, in our struggles and in our brokenness are truly running after Jesus, I will be right there with you. However, if that is not the case, you heard me right—I will not run with you.

I will love you. I will pray for you. I will honor you. I will encourage you. But I won’t run with you. I won’t unite with you.

You might be wondering how, with that type of resolve, we can avoid a civil war in the church. We can’t. We don’t want to.

The sickle is about to be taken to both the wheat and the tares, so we will all be hit with the judgment of God. This will be a very difficult season for everybody, but it is a necessary one.

Matthew 13:30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Matt 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Jesus boldly revealed what a true believer looks like. His sword of truth is about to strike the church and those who are not fully his will be revealed.

North vs. South

The true remnant will rise up with spiritual violence to liberate masses from the slavery that has been granted them through inappropriate theologies and religious systems.

Matthew 11:12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,d and the violent take it by force.

There will be great confusion in the nation as the world watches this happen in the church, yet it will only be for a season. The true church will eventually emerge, finally, with the power and love they have been craving to see.

Great leaders will rise up in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist to initiate conflict (instead of avoid it) and to wrestle with spiritual forces of darkness.

Ephesians 6:12For 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.

“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.” – September 1862 – Abraham Lincoln – Meditation on the Divine Will

The Fear of the Lord

Please consider what I’m about to communicate very carefully.

We must be humble, teachable and repentant. As prophetic messengers, we cannot move in the flesh and come against what may be a true move of God. Take your viewpoints to God and ensure he confirms them to you. Allow your theologies to be challenged by the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit of Truth reign in your life.

That being said, we cannot stay silent when there is a clear and present danger in the church. To do so would be treason! When God sounds an alarm in your spirit, you must respond to that alarm!

The coming civil war in the church will hinge on the issue of the fear of the Lord (among a handful of other issues).

There are entire movements that are vocally opposing the validity of the fear of the Lord. The civil war in the church will form as the camp divides on this primary issue.

Of course, the false-grace movement and the false-love movement (that refuses any scriptural reality that doesn’t feel like love) are devoid of the fear of the Lord. There are other significant movements out there that may not be as extreme as this, but are at least silent if not resistant to any discussion of the fear of the Lord.

Spiritual pride is a direct result of the absence of the fear of the Lord. So is apathy, a focus on personal experience, the rejection of the call to live a repentant life and having a benefit and blessing mindset.

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

While I understand, and even affirm to a degree, the desire to call God “Daddy,” I am at least a little troubled at how casual we have become with such a fearful, mighty God.

God is not our personal emotional warm fuzzy. He cannot be limited to that. He is mighty indeed!

Does he comfort? Oh my, YES! Does he encourage? Yes! Is he your Daddy? Absolutely! But, my friend, he is so MUCH more.

We can and MUST experience both comfort and fear simultaneously! The civil way in the church will see a departure on this issue. Many will reject this mandate to fear God.

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Without the fear of the Lord, his true nature cannot be discerned. Without the fear of the Lord, there is no friendship of the Lord.

Psalm 25:14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile

This fear of the lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom. This consciousness of sin is the straight pathway to heaven. ~Joseph Barber Lightfoot

It is critical that we allow the fear of the Lord to expose issues of our heart that put our relationship with him at risk! This is very good! This is desirable! And, the fear of the Lord is not “respect” of the Lord. The Bible calls it dread. Terror. It’s quite the mystery indeed that we can experience both terror and love at the same time! How mighty is our God!

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The fear of the lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27)

Vision of a Chess Board

I once had a vision of a chess board, and on the appropriate squares stood actual humans, Christians. They each were fervent and focused as devoted warriors. They all seemed to be spiritual mature and responding to their call of duty.

Suddenly, the chess board began to shake violently. It was clearly a tremor from Heaven as God was causing everything to be hit by his loving judgment. He will shake everything that can be shaken.

What happened next was remarkable. Most of the Christian soldiers remained standing, while a few hit their faces in humility and brokenness. Those who stood, in pride, were suddenly shaken so violently that they turned to dust.

This shaking is coming to the church. Those who pridefully reject the fear of the Lord are in great danger, though they are fervent in their religion.

A Concentration of Government

I shared at a recent regional church leader’s prophetic prayer meeting that we must be careful.

There is a lot of pride in this region—especially within the church of Detroit.

Acts 10:35 But in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

It’s right to respond to God’s mandate to focus on our region and on the state of Michigan. I am friends with some phenomenal leaders who are spearheading a movement of prayer in this state, and they are doing so with great humility.

We must follow their lead, and we cannot allow the pride of Detroit to manifest in our zeal to see a great end time revival land here.

While geographic boundaries do have extreme significance, we have to understand the greater reality.

Washington DC is not important to this nation because of its geographic boundaries. In fact, it’s a very small area. The reason Washington DC is significant is because of the concentration of government. It is our governmental center, and the governmental activity is greater there than anywhere else in the nation.

Yet, the Pentagon is also important and strategic to our nation. So are our military bases. Why? Because of their affiliation and alliance and responsiveness to the governmental leadership in Washington.

Michigan is no different. Pride would cause us to presume that there is something special about our geography. Humility, and an accurate analysis of the situation would reveal something very different—Michigan will be special because of the concentration of humble, cross-bearing, anointed Kingdom government officials and offices that will be established here. Heaven’s authority is coming, I believe, to Michigan. Our impact will be determined by our willingness to humbly respond to God’s governmental leadership.

Just as with Washington DC, it’s not about making Detroit famous. We have been given a sober mandate—to serve our nation in the midst of a coming national, civil war.

A Dividing Line

As God’s government increases, no matter where it is, the division will increase. Gray will become black and white. People will have to choose where they stand. It sounds terrible, but in a wheat and tare season, it is absolutely necessary. God is bringing judgment to the church, and people will absolutely choose sides.

1 Peter 4:17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

This is why the fear of the Lord is so critical! We are scarcely saved and judgment is coming!

Those with a casual disposition and a resistance to the fear of the Lord, and a focus on “Daddy God” without also acknowledging him as “Fearful Judge and Father” will be disturbed beyond description.

Their understanding of who God is will be threatened and they will end up choosing to resist the one they say they know! My God!

Thus, the civil war will commence.

The false-unity, “can’t we all just get along” hopes will be crushed as the fearful reality of the Judge brings his sword of division. His love will provoke him to call the true bride of Christ out and give those compromised by faulty theologies a clear and compelling chance to run to him.

The false-grace, false-love, false-unity movements are radically resistant to the fear of the Lord, yet they won’t be able to escape it when it all comes crashing down.

The world is getting better and better?

The glorious fear of the Lord results in radical and continual repentance as we joyfully encounter the lover and judge of our souls at the same time.

The grief and mourning is multi-faceted, yet much of it comes from an understanding that great destruction is upon us and Hell is expanding as millions are sucked into its horrors.

Those who reject this idea are focused on blessing and benefits. The belief is that the world is getting better and better, and we can rest easy—eat, drink and play.

Exodus 32:4And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a goldena calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

So many have fashioned a god of their own design—and have given it glory for rescuing them from Egypt! The plan is to play instead of forging ahead to save the world. They want to stay at the bottom of the mountain with their hands in their ears saying, “La la la la la!”

I’ve heard it said that God is always in a good mood. This is not only ridiculous theology, but it’s dangerous. Why? When those who subscribe to this idea experience the fearful shakings of God, they will reject him as a foreigner or as a demon.

John 8:48The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

I honestly have no patience for the argument that God is always in a good mood, and that he no longer judges. We need his judgment!

How can 4000 babies a day murdered in our nation, an increase in radical terrorism, absolutely disgusting moral decline, pornography viewed by most people—in the church and increasing suicides, murders and other atrocities cause anyone to presume the world is getting better?

The goal is not to live a great life now—it’s to rescue a dying planet and prepare the way of the Lord!

The fear of the Lord will result in a sobriety that will shake us terribly. We will see the heartbreak of God and join him in his distress.

God is absolutely not in a good mood all the time. If he was, he’d be a monster as he laughed and did a happy dance as he cast people into eternal torment in Hell.

No, God is very often sad, disturbed and heartbroken.

Now what?

Pray. Pray like your life depends on it. It does.

Mourn. Cry out. Sound alarms. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Be broken. Be humble. Be repentant.

A civil war is coming. Will you choose the way of comfort and pleasure and personal benefits as you fashion a god of your own design? Many significant movements and churches will do so. The pressure to join them will be extreme. The deception will be convincing. Will you seek after peace and safety with them?

Or will you drop your toys, leave the remote on the couch, let the dead bury their own dead and head up the mountain where the lightening, thundering, shakings—and God himself are?

Exodus 19:16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain[b] trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

What is a revival culture really like? (inconvenient, hard work!)

A revival culture is quite different than most realize.

image In my upcoming book The Coming Church I detail some of the mind blowing, unsettling yet explosive changes that are coming to the structure of the church.

The reformation that’s coming will be resisted by most—even by most who would say they are hungry for revival.

The surrender and work and trouble that’s required will cause those who are addicted to comfort and personal endeavors to stop well short of the mark.

20 Elements of Revival (Order HERE!)

I wanted to make it easy for people to understand what the vision at Revival Church is.

I want to answer the questions:

  • What should I expect from the Revival Church experience?
  • What should I not expect?
  • What is the goal?
  • What's expected of me?
  • What are the core realities I should run with?

The entire vision is best viewed by reading 20 Elements of Revival. If it's in there, it's in our vision. But, it helps to narrow it down as well.

Here's what I came up with…it's still a work in progress, but I thought I'd let you take a look:

Revival Church Mission Statement

Revival Church exists to gather forerunners who are united in the mandate to initiate reformation in the church and revival in the region. As carriers of the fire of God, we are single-minded in our mission to rally a generation that will embrace the cross of Christ, pursue radical holiness, engage in fervent prayer, live a life of repentance and experience both the freedom and the fear of the Lord.

Revival Church Mission Strategy

Adapted from John Burton’s book 20 Elements of Revival, we rally around these revival strategies:

  1. Consecration: As a company of reformers we are alert and intentional in our mission. The call for all is to gather together continually, free of distraction, with surrendered hearts, in unwavering agreement and with an unusual investment of time, energy and passion.
  2. Fiery Prayer: The biblical church is a house of continual prayer, and we commit to upholding that standard. Every Christian has the sober responsibility and wondrous opportunity to pray in such a way that the fire of God burns night and day in our lives, our church, our region and the nations.
  3. Fear & Trembling: The fear of the Lord will always be before us. Brokenness and repentance is a continual reality in the resulting atmosphere that will facilitate a historic end-time revival.
  4. Culture shock: When truth is preached, religious spirits react and the hungry marvel. Comfort zones are threatened and personal endeavors are disrupted. In the fear of the Lord, we will prophetically decree shocking and liberating realities of the Kingdom of God.
  5. Wonders: A supernatural baptism of fire will hit all who have given themselves to Jesus without measure. Death to self, humility and a bold, burning spirit of prayer will open the door to a life of wonders!

The purpose of this is to help people understand what it really takes to see revival come. Of course, the above isn’t comprehensive, and it’s not meant to be. But, it does help people understand the foundations.

Let’s lock in and endure to the end together—it will be well worth it when the fire falls!

Fear: This may be the most important series I’ve ever taught

Listen to the latest in what may be the most important series I’ve ever taught: Threat to Revival #7—Fear

FIRST: You DON’T want to miss our fourth annual Revival Church Christmas Dinner & White Elephant Gift Exchange!!!

Join us this Thursday, December 13th at 7pm for a night of Christmas family fun. Bring a main course and either a side OR dessert to share. Also, bring a wrapped gift valued under $10, one for each member in your family, for the white elephant gift exchange. It all happens at Revival Church, which meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071. Invite all of your friends and family!

Revival-Church-Christmas-Dinner-2012

TEN THREATS TO REVIVAL: THREAT #7, FEAR

You can listen to last night’s incredibly freeing message on the spirit of fear here: http://media.johnburton.net/5753783

Follow along with the notes here:

Threat 7. Fear of Loss

1. The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.

1. We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.

2. Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

3. The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.

4. If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.

1. Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

1. You could call the spirit of fear, slave fear and the fear of the Lord, son fear.

2. The fear of a slave is to cower; slaves want to run away from their masters.  But “son fear” is something different; it motivates us to seek and please God.

3. “Slave fear” that drives us away from God is wrong; “son fear” that drives us toward God is right and proper.

2. In this next passage, God is saying not to have slave fear.

3. Exodus 20:18-20 (ESV) 18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”

2. Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

3. Nenien C. McPherson, Jr., says that the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises are the only fears that are natural to us. There are only two, he says, and all the rest are learned.

1. Satan coaches us into every other fear! He’s our fear coach. He’s our fear leader!

2. In generations past the fear for the Christian was the loss of life, today the fear is a loss of comfort.

4. Fear haunts people and hijacks their zeal and their focus on mission.

1. When we fear loss, our natural reaction is to shut everything else out and go into protect mode.

2. Fear is a disqualifier. It sends people home… their focus is on how to survive their own lives at home instead of being in the midst of the mission… the very reason they were born!

3. Judges 7:2-3 (ESV) 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

1. When the call to run with a vision is presented, don’t be surprised when people turn their focus to their own survival.

2. The song goes, I surrender all!!! If all is surrendered, we can’t be gripped by fear of loss!

1. Our family is surrendered, our money is surrendered, our comfort is surrendered, our physical life is surrendered!

3. Manitou Springs-I was disturbed at the number of Christians that were afraid to even drive past that city! I was mad!

4. I needed the warriors to show up, to be bold, to lock arms with us and take a city—and they didn’t even begin in the battle! Fear kept them away, and the flow to Hell kept streaming.

1. As a visionary, one issue that I constantly wrestle with is the job of selling the vision.

2. So much energy is used attempting to convince the church of the region that it’s a good move to invest in revival. It’s a benefit to them to participate. There’s blessing if they run the race with us.

3. Come on! Where are the people who have matured beyond this? Where are those who need no reason to invest in revival other than the fact that people are going to Hell?

4. Where are those who fear not? Who simply show up to fight against the Kingdom of darkness? No fear of loss at all! People with fire in their eyes who know why they were born!

1. We cannot expect to win if we forfeit.

2. The church isn’t primarily plagued with defeat, it’s plagued with FORFEIT!

3. The Hebrews forfeited the Promised Land!!!! Fear!!!

4. Numbers 13:25-28 (ESV) 25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.

5. Then what happens is that the true visionaries reject fear and call everybody to go, and there’s division in the camp! The mission ends!

6. Numbers 13:30-33 (ESV) 30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

7. They wanted to stone those who were responding to God’s call to advance!

8. Numbers 14:23-24 (ESV) 23 … And none of those who despised me shall see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

5. The issue of fear is a HUGE one!

1. If we don’t deal with fear now, when the threat to our lives increases, we will run home!

2. Mark 14:61-65 (ESV) 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

3. Mark 14:66-72 (ESV) 66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

4. There’s been so much emphasis in the church on blessing and gain, that the spirit of fear has been able to settle into position, ready to pounce when the possibility of personal loss presents itself.

1. Attempting to minimize risk is not the answer!!!!

6. The church must again be a place of power that calls people to the edge as it plunders the kingdom of darkness!!!

1. A key reason pastors don’t advance their churches into the experiential realm of encounter with God is that the risk of losing people, money and their reputation is high.

2. It’s clear that a instituting a marginalized church culture is a much less risky option to develop a growing church in America. However, it’s also clear that such a culture is void of power and miracles.

1. Revival will only come through a Biblical church that is costly, raging hot on fire and radically uncomfortable to our flesh.

3. The world isn’t looking for another man-made system to join. In fact, the world does a much better job of building humanistic kingdoms than the church does.

4. We’ll only see revival when we have the guts to call people into the wilderness of extreme encounter where the Fire and the Cloud leads them into a supercharged adventure.

1. Fear of loss must be replaced by an expectation of loss!

2. I surrender all! It's not, “I hope I don't have to surrender all!”

3. I die daily! It's not, “I hope I can avoid the death part of the program!”

4. I take up my cross! It's not, “I take up my blessing!”

7. The comforter

1. We were robbed

1. The enemy will actually cause blessing at times!

2. Promise of new computers

3. Story of getting robbed

4. Fear

5. At IHOP

6. The enemy wants to masquerade as the Holy Spirit… he’s a false comforter.

7. He wants us to use him, to use fear as a means of protection.

8. This revelation was so powerful.

9. We were initially terrified to stay in the house, but that night I let God comfort me like never before… and I slept with overwhelming peace.